One of the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF) newly acquired fleet of Seasprite helicopters is embarking on its first operational mission with an offshore patrol vessel (OPV) to help transport 23 government staff and about seven tonnes of vital equipment and supplies to the remote Kermadec Islands.
An SH-2G (I) Seasprite, one of eight that are being introduced into service this year, has joined the Royal New Zealand Navy’s HMNZS Otago on a resupply mission to the Kermadec Islands from 12-23 September.
“Although the newer-model Seasprite was deployed on a frigate for a multilateral exercise in June, their deployment on an OPV is a major step forward in increasing the NZDF’s ability to support other government agencies in New Zealand and in the Pacific region. This also marks a major milestone in the modernisation of the Navy’s fleet,” Captain Dave McEwan, the Acting Maritime Component Commander, said.
Lieutenant Commander (LTCDR) Andrew Sorensen, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said the ship’s first stop would be at Macauley Island, where the Seasprite will drop off a Department of Conservation (DoC) representative and two dogs trained to detect rats and other pests.
Otago will travel next to Raoul Island, to resupply the DoC outpost there. About seven tonnes of goods, including food supplies, general equipment and a light utility vehicle, will be flown to the island in underslung loads.
“The NZDF provides logistical support to other government agencies and the resupply operation to the Kermadecs is a good example of that,” LTCDR Sorensen said.
National Maritime Coordination Centre manager Kevin Arlidge said the Seasprite’s deployment with an offshore patrol vessel would allow them to reach more inaccessible and remote parts of the Kermadecs and would widen the scope of the NZDF’s work in support of DoC and GNS Science.