Spartan role agility put to the test

The crew of a deployed Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-27J Spartan responded to a yacht in distress in the Coral Sea during their Defence Pacific Air Program rotation.

CAPTIONA vessel in distress captured by members of No 35 Squadron aboard a C-27J Spartan aircraft during a search and rescue mission over the Coral Sea. Story by Flight Lieutenant Imogen Lunny. Photo by Corporal Joshua Dows.

Over four hours, the C-27J crew were able to maintain visual and radio contact with the stricken yacht and provide updates back to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

When container ship the Northern Diamond entered the area of operation, the aircrew coordinated a response with the ship to divert and launch a life raft to the stranded personnel.

Detachment Commander Flight Lieutenant Thomas Johnston commended the team’s swift actions as they shifted focus from one task to another.

“Our training allowed for an agile response, to change from the original planned flight to a live search and rescue mission,” Flight Lieutenant Johnston said.

“This is a big reason why we train the way we do – you never know when something like this might happen, and I think the team did a great job.

“To know that people are now safe and that our team played a part in making that happen is very rewarding.”

Spartans crew remained on station until an Australian Border Force aircraft arrived and the yacht’s passengers were able to safely board the Northern Diamond.

The C-27J then continued its transit to Townsville via Cairns.

The C-27J and its crew have been deployed to the Southwest Pacific for the first Defence Pacific Air Program rotation of 2024 with an aim to deepen relationships, enhance integration and bolster aviation support to the region.

CAPTIONA RAAF member from No 35 Squadron searches for a vessel in distress during a search and rescue mission over the Coral Sea.


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