U.S. Navy P-3C Orion Provides Assistance To New Zealand After Earthquake

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Walters
Stripes Okinawa

OKINAWA, Japan - Members with the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 assisted New Zealand in field survey operations following an earthquake in the South Island of New Zealand Nov. 15.

VP-47's aircrew, accompanied by two Royal New Zealand Air Force airmen, took off from the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base, Auckland, located in Whenuapai, on a five-hour mission to assess the area surrounding Kaikora. The squadron is supporting critical relief efforts by visually assessing, while airborne, the condition of roads and infrastructure that were damaged by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

"Our ability to work closely with the Royal New Zealand Air Force crewmembers was essential to the completion of our mission," said Lt. Daniel O'Keefe, one of VP-47's tactical coordinators. "The navigational assistance that they provided was invaluable and enabled flawless execution."

During the flight, they were able to identify impassable roads covered in debris. Additionally, they were able to assess bridges that were cracked and buckling due to damage by the earthquake.

"We are very glad to be able to render assistance during this disaster," said Cmdr. Jim Imlah, executive officer of VP-47. "Both our aircrew and our aircraft maintainers understand the urgency of these missions and are working around the clock to provide maritime patrol and humanitarian support to the people of New Zealand."

This is the Golden Swordsmen's last deployment with the P-3C aircraft. VP-47 is the second of three Hawaii-based squadrons to make the move to Whidbey Island and transition to the P-8A.

VP-47 is currently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, and to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations at Comalapa, El Salvador.

For more news from Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/airpac/.

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