Disaster relief just another day for Coast officer
BEN Johnson casts his eye to the turquoise water lapping the pure white sand. He's never seen anything like it.
The Royal Australian Navy officer Midshipman has been in New Caledonia conducting a major humanitarian relief exercise.
Mr Johnson, 23, of Maleny, joined the Navy as a sailor when he was 18 after graduating from Maleny State High School.
"I've always been intrigued by the sea and going to sea excited me," he said.
"I joined the Navy to be able to go to sea and the work the defence force does in humanitarian work assistance to other nations really got me excited.
"The fact I could be a part of that, doing something bigger than me."
Mr Johnson was one of 200 members of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force working with 500 personnel from 11 countries including Canada, Chile, France,
Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, United States of America and
Exercise Croix du Sud, which is French for Southern Cross, was conducted from August 25 to September 5 in New Caledonia and surrounding waters.
It was based on the devastating aftermath of a category four cyclone.
The challenge for the allied forces was to help the local community with humanitarian relief and security as well as co-ordinating the evacuation of Australian citizens and
"Should anything happen we're ready to go," Mr Johnson said.
"It's exciting being part of a big exercise. I used to work on helicopters and didn't see much of the sea, this is the kind of side I want, what I'm doing here.
"I was on a landing craft we raft up with other ships and take vehicles and land them on the beach.
"It's a high tempo, it's always evolving, always something that's very exciting, no two days are the same."
The Commander of the Australian Contingent, Wing Commander Jim Xinos, said the exercise demonstrated Australia's enduring contribution to humanitarian and disaster relief with multi-national partners.
"Australia and our Pacific partners share a common interest in the security and stability of the region," Cdr Xinos said.