Members of the Republic of Fiji Navy and Ministry of Fisheries with the Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley, in front of the Orion with some of its crew
31 January 2015
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion today flew the first maritime surveillance patrol in Fiji since defence ties were suspended in 2006.
The flight is part of a series of activities in Fiji this weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of No 5 Squadron’s withdrawal from Laucala Bay in Fiji. During its time at Laucala Bay, No 5 Squadron flew Catalina and Sunderland flying boats from 1941 to 1965 and carried out long-range maritime reconnaissance, transport and air-sea rescue missions. The Squadron is also particularly remembered today for its assistance to local civilian communities.
The commemorations were an initiative from the Defence Minister’s visit to Fiji in December last year and form part of New Zealand’s initial defence engagement with Fiji.
Flying from Suva on patrol of Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Orion flew west to coordinate with a Fijian Navy patrol vessel currently undertaking maritime surveillance. On the aircraft working with the Air Force crew were three Fijian Navy personnel and one offshore fisheries officer from the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries and Forests.
Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley said the Air Force regularly patrols New Zealand’s EEZ and those of our South Pacific neighbours.
“It is important we know what is happening in both our EEZ and those of our Pacific partners so we can fulfil our security role to government and to deter any unauthorised activity that may be taking place.
“The P-3K2 aircraft has a range of state-of-the-art airborne surveillance equipment on board, making it the perfect choice for this type of tasking.
“The P-3K2 is flown by 5 Squadron, and given the history, it is fitting that No 5 Squadron conducted today’s flight,” said AVM Yardley.
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