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Minister commends NZ Defence Force role

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Defence

9 April 2013
Media Statement
Minister commends NZ Defence Force role

As the multi-agency search and salvage operation off the Kawhia coast draws to a close the Minister of Defence Dr Jonathan Coleman has commended the efforts of the NZ Defence Force, in particular the Royal New Zealand Navy.

“The recovery operation was a particularly complex task that required a high degree of interoperability between government agencies, and the NZ Defence Force for the search and subsequent recovery of the aircraft”, said Dr Coleman.

“The complexity of the mission and dedication of the staff can easily go unnoticed. In this case it is important to acknowledge what the Defence Force achieved,” said the Minister.

“Within 24 hours of receiving a request from NZ Police, the Navy deployed a team of search and dive specialists to provide expert advice from ashore and at sea. Over 40 Navy sailors and officers were deployed to the search site over the course of the operation.”

“A seven person detachment from the RNZN Mine Counter Measures Team and RNZN Operational Dive Team operated from the Coastguard's Raglan based Gallagher Rescue vessel, utilising Navy’s high tech underwater search equipment [Remote Operated vehicle (ROV) and REMUS] to locate the aircraft,” he said.

“The dive support vessel HMNZS MANAWANUI was rapidly re-tasked to support the search. After 46 hours in transit, her wet dive bell, compression chamber, stand-alone crane, and precision anchoring provided specific capabilities to aid in the salvage operation, which started on 5 April.”

“Eleven divers from the Operational Diving Team embarked onboard MANAWANUI. They conducted 11 dives in pairs, resulting in approximately 33 man hours of diving over the three day recovery period,” said Dr Coleman.

“Operating at the very limits of their diving capabilities they prepared the aircraft for recovery from the depth of 56m.”

“During the task one navy diver suffered from salt water inhalation. The dive team uses very robust safety operating procedures which enabled speedy treatment for the diver. He is now fully recovered and has been discharged back to duty,” said the Minister.

“The aircraft salvage was achieved using MANAWANUI’s crane, and she is now transporting the aircraft back to Auckland, where the CAA will conduct further investigations. “

“This has been a truly multi-agency operation, the training and professionalism of NZ Navy personnel has been evident as they operate alongside NZ Police, Coastguard, CAA, and local authorities. I commend the Defence Force for its excellent work under challenging conditions,” said Dr Coleman.

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