Australian Navy depth sounder helps New Zealand in quake aftermath

The Royal Australian Navy laser airborne depth sounder flight has deployed to assist in disaster relief efforts off the South Island of New Zealand.

The Cairns-based flight has conducted a hydrographic survey of the sea floor in the coastal margins of the north-east coast of the South Island following the recent 7.9 magnitude earthquake near Christchurch.

Commanding Officer laser airborne depth sounder flight, Lieutenant Commander Susanna Hung, said the flight’s role was to resurvey the coastline for the safety of navigation and to assist in determining the extent of movement from the earthquake.

“We were pleased to deploy at the request of the New Zealand government to survey the sea floor off the north east coast of the South Island,” Lieutenant Commander Hung said.

“In our de Havilland Dash 8 – 200 we flew over the area and collected hydrographic survey data, which revealed what has happened below the waterline, and identified shifts in the ocean floor which mariners need to be aware of.

“The data we collected will be provided to the New Zealand Hydrographic Authority for production of updated nautical charts.”

Earlier in the month, HMAS Darwin deployed and supported disaster relief efforts in New Zealand, following the earthquake which damaged houses, government building and civil infrastructure and isolated the Kaikoura region.

The frigate used her embarked S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter to evacuate civilians and to help distribute emergency supplies.

The Laser Airborne Depth Sounder is part of Royal Australian Navy’s Hydrographic Service and is supported by Fugro LADS Corporation and Cobham.

Navy personnel operate the airborne survey system from the main cabin of the aircraft and pass the survey data to personnel on the ground, which is forwarded to the Australian Hydrographic Office for final verification.