Orions Successful in Pacific Search and Rescue Missions
10 June 2015
The Royal New Zealand Air Force was able to locate a missing vessel near Manihiki (Cook Islands) last night, enabling rescue of a man and a six-year-old boy on board.
The pair, who had been missing since 7 June, were rescued after the Orion crew coordinated a rendezvous with local sea vessels at night using onboard Infra Red systems to direct the rescue vessel to the survivors. The two males were safely located, taken aboard the rescue vessel and returned to Manihiki. The Orion subsequently returned to Samoa.
The rescue was one of two search and rescue missions undertaken by the New Zealand Defence Force in the Pacific yesterday, both requiring P-3K2 Orion aircraft to search the areas.
Head of Air Operations Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said situations like this demonstrate the flexibility of an aircraft and crew that is equipped and trained for multiple roles.
““Although this rescue appeared straightforward, it was a complex activity, involving coordination between Cook Islands Police, Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand, New Zealand Defence Force, Air Traffic Control, the aircraft and the rescue vessels; all working together at short notice for a ten hour mission to achieve a successful outcome.”
The first Orion was in Samoa on routine tasking when it was diverted to the search and rescue operation. A second Orion departed Base Auckland on Monday morning to search for two missing males aged 26 and 28, in the vicinity of Kiribati. While en-route to the search area, the National Rescue Coordination Centre advised both people, who had been missing since 3 June, had been located.
The RNZAF aircraft was then retasked and used the opportunity conduct a maritime patrol of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone near the Kermadecs. The aircraft returned to Whenuapai on Monday evening.
The Orion is a specialist maritime surveillance aircraft ideal for at sea search and rescue missions. The Air Force is on standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week to quickly respond to search and rescue. The Air Force undertakes search and rescue missions with the Orion, the C-130 Hercules and the NH90 helicopter.
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