Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR March 2017 Contents 52 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAR 2017
As dawn broke over the battered east coast
of the South Island on November 14, an
RNZAF Orion P-3K2 was collecting imagery
of the devastation. Tragically two lives were lost and
the first aerial photographs chronicled the immense
damage to land, homes and businesses in the area.
It became obvious that the road and rail links
to Kaikoura were severely damaged and that the
rescue and relief effort had to come by sea and air.
A complicating factor for the maritime deployment
was that the sea bed had been altered by the
quake, in places rising two metres or more from
its original level.
Evacuating people was a challenge, as it was
difficult for amphibious support ship HMNZS
CANTERBURY to deploy her landing craft at times
when surf was pounding the new and much changed
shoreline. Most movement was done by ship’s
RHIBs from CANTERBURY and WELLINGTION
and also by RNZAF NH90 helicopters.
The military relief effort to follow was not only
a major inter-agency collaboration, but also an
international one. Within three days there were
15 fixed wing aircraft and helicopters from five
countries, seven navy ships from five countries, and
150 soldiers in 27 medium-heavy vehicles assisting
in the relief effort. 930 people were evacuated
by sea and air, with 241 tonnes of relief supplies
delivered before road access was re-opened.
INITIAL MILITARY RESPONSE
When the earthquake hit Kaikoura, the RNZAF’s
response was swift: a P-3K2 Orion was first on the
scene conducting surveillance of the devastated
area. The images from the aircraft were quickly in
the hands of the agencies that needed to see them.
The immediate product was something they call a
“Quick Look”, where the image is received, quickly
analysed and commented on, then for warded
to Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand for
onwards distribution to those agencies that urgently
need to see what has happened.
Amphibious support ship HMNZS CANTERBURY
with relief supplies and OPV HMNZS WELLINGTON
with an embarked Littoral Warfare Unit, including
military hydrographers, sailed from RNZN Devonport
Naval Base 11pm the same Monday, arriving at
Kaikoura early morning Wednesday. While these
ships were on their first day of transit, the author
exchanged an email with his good friend CDR
Simon Rooke, Captain of CANTERBURY, who
expressed confidence that his crew’s experiences
in his ship with 2015 Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu, and
2016 Cyclone Winston in Fiji would stand them in
good stead for the Kaikoura emergency.
On Tuesday, four RNZAF NH90 helicopters
landed in Kaikoura. They picked up 200 evacuees
and delivered 1.3 tonnes of water, 300kg of food
and jerrycans of diesel. On that same day overseas
ships HMAS DARWIN, HMCS VANCOUVER, and
USS SAMPSON, along with HMNZS TE KAHA,
were diverted from the International Naval Review in
Auckland to head south. They were all subsequently
resupplied by HMNZS ENDEAVOUR.
AMPHIBIOUS SUPPORT SHIP
RECEIVED 640 EVACUEES
Wednesday saw the start of serious sea
evacuations to CANTERBURY with assistance
from WELLINGTON’s boats, taking aboard 450
evacuees, 7 tonnes of baggage and four dogs,
then departing for Lyttelton. On this same day
RNZAF NH90 helicopters rescued 165 people
and delivered 5000kg of aid. An RNZAF C-130
Hercules aircraft airdropped about 8000 litres of
water to Kaikoura residents
Thursday saw CANTERBURY back at Kaikoura
carrying 216 tonnes of relief supplies. It continued
evacuations of people on this and following days,
while a major shuttle operation began using military
helicopters to get the relief supplies ashore.
RNZAF NH90 helicopters rescued a further 60
residents and delivered two tonnes of supplies.
Meantime Australian FFG HMAS DARWIN,
HMCS VANCOUVER and USS SAMPSON all
arrived with helicopters aboard and ready to help.
The Commanding Officer of USS SAMPSON,
Commander Tim LaBenz, said they had come
to offer any kind of support they could. “ We
received the first signal that our assistance may be
necessary. We immediately made our way south
as part of the Task Group. We have helicopters
and onboard expertise to assist in a multitude of
areas. We’re proud to be part of a broader effort
to bring some relief and help those affected by
HELICOPTERS FROM FOUR
COUNTRIES PLAYED A VITAL ROLE
On arrival HMAS DARWIN (1xS-70B2 Seahawk),
HMCS VANCOUVER (1xCH124 Sea King) and
USS SAMPSON (2xMH60 Seahawk) immediately
put their helicopters to work ferrying relief supplies
from CANTERBURY to a Kaijoura rugby field
designated ‘LZ Rugby’.
They continued this role on Friday and Saturday
until all relief stores were landed.
About 120 sailors from Australia, Canada and
the US joined colleagues from the Royal New
Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS TE KAHA to form a
multinational team that went ashore in Kaikoura to
support relief efforts.
Commander (CDR) Steve Lenik, Commanding
Officer of TE KAHA, said the multinational team
helped clear debris in primary and secondary
schools and distributed hundreds of chemical toilets
to Kaikoura households. ” The sailors helped fix
sewage lines and went door-knocking to conduct
welfare checks. Some of them also helped prepare
food for the community at the marae.”
GEOFF SLOCOMBE // NEW ZEALAND
MILITARY SUPPORT VITAL IN NZ
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the South Island of New Zealand occurred two minutes after midnight on Monday
14 November 2016 NZDT. The second largest quake since European occupation of NZ hit 60 km south-west of the tourist town
of Kaikoura, population 3,000 and swelled by tourist numbers, occurred at a depth of approximately 15 km. Ruptures happened
on multiple fault lines in a complex sequence that lasted for about two minutes. The earthquake’s effects were also felt strongly in
Wellington, where some buildings were destroyed or left uninhabitable.
24/02/2017 2:51 PM
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