After the devastating eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai and subsequent tsunami, several countries have provided aid including New Zealand, Japan and Australia. Before aircraft could be dispatched to assist the Polynesian kingdom, assessment of critical infrastructure such as ports and airfields was carried out. This was performed by two RAAF P-8A Poseidon flights and one C-130J Hercules. They also completed aerial surveillance over remote islands of country at the request of the Tongan Government to assist in determining damage and help with future disaster support requests. The Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Aotearoa berthed at Nuku’alofa port on the 20th of January with Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief stores, which included bulk water supplies and PPE to the people of Tonga.
With the airport deemed operational after the locals cleared the runway by hand, flights carrying humanitarian supplies, including more drinking water, communications equipment and temporary shelters were able to begin. All deliveries have been contactless at the request of the Tongan Government due to the country wanting to maintain its COVID-19 free status.
Flights were carried out from RAAF Base Amberley and RAAF Base Williamtown by C-17 Globemasters and C-130 Hercules.
Supplies from Brisbane have also been shipped to Tonga onboard the HMAS Adelaide. Also onboard the HMAS Adelaide were three Boeing CH-47F Chinooks from the 5th Aviation Regiment, based out of Townsville.
The Japanese Ministry of Defence also dispatched two Kawasaki C-2’s and two Lockheed C-130H Hercules to assist over the course of several days. They were loaded with drinking water and transport equipment for removing volcanic ash. The flights operated via Cairns and RAAF Base Amberley.