In response to a request from the New Zealand Government, the Australian Defence Force will support the evacuation of people from the Kaikoura area who have been isolated following the earthquake that struck the South Island on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: HMAS Darwin. Photo by Leading Seaman James Whittle.
HMAS Darwin has been diverted from her planned participation in the International Naval Review in Auckland and is now steaming to Kaikoura.
It is anticipated that HMAS Darwin will arrive in Kaikoura on Wednesday evening and when in location her S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopter will support the evacuation of people, and the distribution of disaster relief stores if required.
“Having HMAS Darwin already in New Zealand has enabled us to respond quickly to this request,” Australian Defence Minister Marice Payne said.
“While the Naval Review is important, helping the people who have been impacted directly by the earthquake is the highest priority.”
“Our thoughts are with those affected and we stand ready to provide additional support if it is requested.”
New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the United States, Canada, Japan and Singapore had also offered assistance.
“The USS Sampson, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, is now on its way to Kaikoura, where it will deploy two MH60 helicopters to help as required. The US has also offered a P-3 Orion for surveillance flights,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Canada is sending its frigate HMCS Vancouver.
“It’s heartening to see overseas partners so willing to alter their plans and offer their assistance.”
The foreign ships were all scheduled to participate in an International Naval Review celebrating 75 years of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
HMNZS Te Kaha and the tanker ship HMNZS Endeavour are also joining the effort, along side HMNZ Ships Canterbury and Wellington, which were initially tasked.