Search For Missing SASR Soldier Concludes
Department of Defence Media Mail
CPA 351/06 Wednesday, 6 December 2006
Search And Rescue Operation For Missing SASR Soldier Concludes
The Australian Defence Force has concluded search and rescue operations for the Special Air Service Regiment soldier, Trooper Joshua Porter, who remains missing, presumed dead, as a result of a helicopter accident on HMAS Kanimbla last week.
Since the crash of the Black Hawk, the ADF has conducted an extensive search for Trooper Porter utilising HMA Ships NEWCASTLE, KANIMBLA and SUCCESS, as well as multiple rigid hulled inflatable boats, Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters and an RAAF AP-3C Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
The search began immediately after the crash based on a known crash position. It was conducted in good weather conditions and made best use of the considerable resources available to the on-scene commander and expert advice provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Despite significant search effort using all available means the ADF has been unable to locate Trooper Porter and the search was concluded at 7pm today.
Trooper Porter’s family has been notified and the ADF extends its continued sympathy to them during this difficult time and requests that their privacy is respected.
Personnel on board HMAS Kanimbla will conduct a service of reflection on Thursday to allow all personnel to reflect on the incident and the loss of Captain Bingley and Trooper Porter.
The ADF focus will now move to attempting to locate the lost Black Hawk. The helicopter is fitted with an Aircraft Beacon Locator which transmits a continuous signal to facilitate location. The beacon has an estimated endurance of 30 days.
The ADF has been unable to detect the signal with our current suite of equipment and has requested assistance from the United States Navy (USN) to attempt to locate the aircraft. The USN has agreed to provide a Towed Position Locating (TPL) drone which will be fitted to the survey ship, HMAS Melville, in Noumea. HMAS Melville is expected to commence location operations with the TPL drone next week.
Locating an aircraft at 2300 metres underwater or deeper is an extremely challenging endeavour. Should the position of the aircraft be established with any degree of confidence, detailed surveillance of the site using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) would be required. Again, the ADF would need to utilise USN or commercial ROV operators to undertake this task and this process would take some time, in the order of weeks.
Planning for any potential recovery of the aircraft would be subject to the outcome of the location operations and will be considered in due course.
The investigation into the accident is continuing.
The ADF task group that is deployed to the South West Pacific remains ready to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of Australians in Fiji if the situation there deteriorates.