Saturday, April 13, 2024

Defence beaches landing trial

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has successfully trialled some of its beach landing equipment in an overseas environment for the first time.

Operation Mahi Tahi, which involved military sealift vessel HMNZS Canterbury, trained personnel for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support in the Pacific, practising air, sea, and amphibious training scenarios, has just concluded in Fiji.

At Lomolomo Beach on Viti Levu, Canterbury’s landing craft first unloaded a Beach Preparation Extraction Vehicle (BPEV), which can be used to help prepare the beach by clearing any debris such as logs or boulders, smoothing it out for other vehicles to land ashore.

A Pinzgauer vehicle drives off a landing craft onto Lomolomo Beach during Operation Mahi Tahi.

It can be fitted with a Push Plate that can be used to force the landing craft off the shoreline if it were to get stuck there, and it also has a rear winch for land vehicle recovery, said Lieutenant Callum Wilkie, Amphibious Beach Team Commander from 5th Movements Company of the New Zealand Army.

From the landing craft the team can also operate a converted 20-tonne CAT938K loader, which can roll out a temporary trackway over soft sand, allowing light vehicles like the Pinzgauer truck or non-4WD vehicles to get ashore.

The Joint Task Group assembles on the flight deck of HMNZS Canterbury prior to sailing in to Lautoka Pirt, Fiji.

“Operation Mahi Tahi is about making sure that we are ready to assist in the Pacific if we need to respond to a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situation,” Lieutenant Wilkie said.

“Having this opportunity to deploy on the Canterbury to Fiji, has been a great chance for us to build up experience within the team and test the capability.

“We haven’t practised this type of amphibious landing for a while and this is the first time we’ve used both the BPEV and CAT938K overseas so it’s really great to see it deployed here at Lomolomo Beach.”

The CAT938K (with Faun Trackway on the front) drives off a landing craft on to Lomolomo Beach.

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