P-3K2 Orion and crew on tarmac in Samoa.
23 May 2014
A P-3K2 Orion aircraft from The Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) Airborne Surveillance and Response Force (No 5 Squadron at Base Auckland in Whenuapai) took part in an international maritime operation based in Samoa this week.
The operation supports the work of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, a 17-member grouping, including New Zealand and Australia, established to help countries sustainably manage the fisheries resources within their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). New Zealand, along with Australia, France and the US, is a key maritime surveillance partner for Pacific Island countries, helping to police their EEZs and protect the fisheries on which many of them are economically dependent.
The RNZAF’s Air Component Commander, Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, who is responsible for all Air Force operations, said that the P-3K2 flights play an important role in helping Pacific Island countries combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
“These operations help strengthen our bilateral and military relationships with our key South-West Pacific partners as we meet our obligations in the region and demonstrate New Zealand’s commitment to international fisheries management conventions,” he said.
Over the course of the operation, the P-3K2 flew eight sorties totalling approximately 50 hours in the air, covering the EEZs of Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Kiribati and some of those areas between EEZs which are declared high seas areas.
The aircraft captain, Squadron Leader Marcus Hogan, said that it had been a rewarding and productive operation.
“The upgraded P-3K2 Orion is perfect for this work. We get the satisfaction of carrying out a valuable and important task in support of our neighbouring nations. While at the same time up-skilling many of our people and working alongside other Air Forces. It’s been a great operation to be on,” he said.