The U.S. Navy has sent maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft to help assist New Zealand in the wake of the November 13 earthquake.
A P-3C Orion assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 was participating in Exercise Mahi Tangaroa as part of the New Zealand International Naval Review when the earthquake occurred and has been tasked with assessing the area surrounding Kaikoura, NZ, the U.S. Navy said.
The P-3C is currently operating from Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland located in Whenuapai, NZ.
“From the moment we got the word, our aircrew and maintenance professionals have thrown themselves into this relief effort with a commitment that is just so much a part of what our maritime patrol and reconnaissance force stands for,” said Cmdr. Ryan C. Cech, commanding officer of VP-47. “I am proud we can assist our New Zealand partners in their time of need.”
VP-47 is a U.S. Navy P-3C squadron based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. The P-3C Orion is a four engine, turboprop maritime patrol aircraft, with the endurance and ability to conduct wide-area maritime search operations and which give the aircraft an advantage for SAR missions.
The Navy said that in addition to the MPRA assets, USS Sampson (DDG 102) embarked with two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters is currently en route to participate in the New Zealand International Naval Review and is standing by to assist if needed.