Air Force Flies First Fijian Patrol
Members of the Republic of Fiji Navy and Ministry of Fisheries with
the Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley, in
front of the Orion with some of its crew
31 January 2015
A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion today flew the first
maritime surveillance patrol in Fiji since defence ties were suspended
The flight is part of a series of activities in Fiji this weekend to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of No 5 Squadron’s withdrawal from
Laucala Bay in Fiji. During its time at Laucala Bay, No 5 Squadron flew
Catalina and Sunderland flying boats from 1941 to 1965 and carried out
long-range maritime reconnaissance, transport and air-sea rescue
missions. The Squadron is also particularly remembered today for its
assistance to local civilian communities.
The commemorations were an initiative from the Defence Minister’s
visit to Fiji in December last year and form part of New Zealand’s
initial defence engagement with Fiji.
Flying from Suva on patrol of Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ),
the Orion flew west to coordinate with a Fijian Navy patrol vessel
currently undertaking maritime surveillance. On the aircraft working
with the Air Force crew were three Fijian Navy personnel and one
offshore fisheries officer from the Fijian Ministry of Fisheries and
Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley said the Air
Force regularly patrols New Zealand’s EEZ and those of our South
“It is important we know what is happening in both our EEZ and those
of our Pacific partners so we can fulfil our security role to government
and to deter any unauthorised activity that may be taking place.
“The P-3K2 aircraft has a range of state-of-the-art airborne
surveillance equipment on board, making it the perfect choice for this
type of tasking.
“The P-3K2 is flown by 5 Squadron, and given the history, it is
fitting that No 5 Squadron conducted today’s flight,” said AVM