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Twin Helo Operations From HMNZS Canterbury

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa
Media Release
08 June 2009

Twin Helo Operations From HMNZS Canterbury


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Two SH-2G Seasprite helicopters embarked to support Exercise Tropic Twilight 09 work to move people, medical and engineering stores between the HMNZS CANTERBURY and Pukapuka in the Cook Islands.


For the first time since the commissioning of HMNZS CANTERBURY in June 2007, the ship sailed from New Zealand with two SH-2G Seasprite helicopters embarked to support Exercise Tropic Twilight 09.

The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed 67 personnel to Pukapuka in the Cook Islands to conduct a range of medical and engineering civil aid tasks.

Pukapuka is surrounded by a reef, and the sea passage that exists is difficult to negotiate. The challenge for the exercise planners was to find a way to move stores and people from the ship to shore safely and efficiently.

The simultaneous operation of two Seasprite helicopters to move people and the medical and engineering stores between the ship and the Island has proved vital to achieving the exercise objectives.

“This is the first time the RNZN has deployed with two helicopters and has meant that all involved are gaining valuable experience in such operations. This capability has dramatically reduced the time to transfer stores and personnel; therefore the Land Forces can get on with their job sooner” says Lieutenant Commander Sam Richmond, Flight Commander HMNZS CANTERBURY.

Transporting the land forces ashore took both helicopters two full days of flying with logistics staff, flight and deck crew working in a very humid tropical climate of 30 degrees Celsius.

Planning is the key to success in any activity, and in this operation the three services have been working together to ensure that the medical and engineering supplies landed in the right order and in the right place.

“Lifting large and heavy loads in the tropics has been challenging as aircraft performance is reduced in the hot and humid conditions, but careful planning and coordination means that the exercise is so far going smoothly”.

ENDS

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