Australian Air Force Assists in Pacific Maritime Surveillance
Personnel from the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 11 Squadron (11 SQN) have contributed to maritime surveillance in the Pacific as part of Operation Island Chief 2014.
A RAAF AP-3C Orion with 13 members of 11 SQN’s Crew Five flew to Honiara in Solomon Islands to participate in the activity, which is supported by Operation Solania, from August 16-22.
Coordinated through the Regional Fisheries Surveillance Centre (RFSC), Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) Secretariat in Honiara, Operation Island Chief 2014 involved multiple air assets from members of the Quadrilateral Defence Coordinating Group; Australia, New Zealand, France and the US.
Air liaison officer FLTLT Mark Turner travelled with the Australian contingent and was embedded in the Joint Coordination Cell involved in the tasking and coordination of air assets.
Throughout the deployment, 11 SQN’s Crew Five flew six missions patrolling a vast area of the South-West Pacific, including the Bismarck Sea.
The crew was tasked with collecting photographs of all vessels for later analysis by the Pacific Island FFA Intelligence Team.
Members of the FFA also joined the Australian crew on four flights to observe the employment of the AP-3C Orion in maritime surveillance.
Crew Five’s Captain and Detachment Commander FLTLT Thomas Hofbrucker said the deployment was a success.
“As a direct result of Crew Five’s deployment, the FFA will be prosecuting six fishing vessels who were found to be operating in contravention of their fishing licenses,” he said.
“This is a positive outcome as a result of our support to the FFA.”
The ADF’s support of the FFA is vital in helping police vessels monitor fishing in Pacific waters. This helps to foster regional maritime surveillance cooperation and national self-sufficiency.
The positive impacts of Crew Five’s deployment highlight the regional significance of Operation Solania. Operation Solania is the Australian Defence Force (ADF) contribution to maritime surveillance within the Pacific Region.