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Classified Logistics for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

FCDO Services has a long and trusted relationship with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) having delivered projects and services for the department since our earliest days as a Trading Fund.

In November 2021, DFAT opened a new Australian Embassy in Vienna, Austria. For the Embassy to be fully functional on opening, they needed to move 18 tonnes of classified material from Canberra to the new site in just three months.

With entry into and out of Australia being extremely difficult due to COVID-19 and Canberra under some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions within Australia itself, this was a complex logistical task.

Door-to-door solution

The DFAT Security Infrastructure and Projects Section approached our Asia-Pacific regional team to provide a door-to-door logistics solution.

Our FCDO Services Logistics Planner in Canberra quickly responded, and supplied a proposal for how we could transfer the material for them in such a short period of time safely and securely.

Once accepted, the work started immediately to ensure the opening of the embassy could stay on track, with our regional team coordinating the works from Australia.

The project involved a packing and storage component to securely prepare the material, followed by the utilisation of our Queen’s Messenger Service. Finally the co-ordination of the freight’s secure unload on-site was performed by our dedicated Logistics team using secure FCDO Services vehicles.

The consignment travelled from Canberra to London, and then onwards from London to Vienna. With such a large consignment and irregular travel arrangements, good communication was crucial to ensure all parties were in place at the right time.

Impact of COVID-19

The pandemic continued to cause disruption this year. The Omicron lockdown in Canberra and Eastern Australia meant the logistics of shipping the consignment was made more difficult.

Maintaining health and safety standards, and efficiently navigating international COVID-19 quarantines, transit and border restrictions throughout the journey was critical.

Meeting such a tight deadline, in just three months from beginning to end, was no small feat. Our dedicated teams navigated these various challenges successfully and ensured all of the freight was delivered on time. This enabled DFAT to get their Vienna Embassy fully functional and opened as planned.

“This shipment was complicated as it was required to be done in two stages. The FCDO Services in-country team performed extremely well with delivery completed on time. This allowed for the project to be delivered early. A huge thanks to the logistics team for their help. Looking forward to delivering the next project with the team.”

Security Infrastructure and Projects Section, DFAT