The Royal Australian Navy will join efforts to rescue residents amid a volcanic eruption threat on Vanuatu’s Ambae Island.
HMAS Choules departed Australia on Saturday morning with specialists, supplies and landing craft aboard, Defence Minister Marise Payne’s office has announced.
It will reach Vanuatu in the middle of next week and join a fleet of ships including ferries and commercial vessels, which have begun moving 11,000 people to nearby islands.
The evacuees represent five per cent of Vanuatu’s population.
The volcano, known as Manaro, began to erupt last week.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia has also committed $250,000 towards food, water, shelter and hygiene kits as well as aerial surveillance of affected areas.
Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, Army and Navy helicopters and Army engineering equipment and personnel are on standby.
During the Second World War about 340,000 British and French troops surrounded by German forces, were rescued from Dunkirk in northern France by a large flotilla of small private boats.