Home' Air Force News : August 5th 2010 Contents 3
August 5, 2010
LOOKING OUT: FLTLT Brendan Quaife pilots the C-130J while FLTLT Shaun Wilkinson maintains a visual watch during the search for a missing
banana boat in the Solomon Islands.
Photos: ABIS Jo Dilorenzo
EYES PEELED: Loadmaster SGT
Paul Ross maintains the search for
the missing boat.
AIR FORCE has again lent its expertise
to help people in distress when a 37SQN
Hercules flew to the Solomon Islands to
assist in search and rescue efforts after
local authorities received a distress call
from a small vessel on July 20.
A local 7m inter-island 'banana boat'
with three people on board transmit-
ted a distress message and, after a local
search that failed to locate the boat,
search and rescue authorities in Honiara
contacted the Australian Maritime Safety
Authority (AMSA) on July 22, request-
ing Australian assistance.
AMSA's Rescue Coordination Centre
(RCC) then contacted Defence and the
aircraft was tasked that afternoon.
Aircraft captain FLTLT Shaun
Wilkinson and his crew were warned
out shortly afterwards and while
37SQN ground crew prepared the air-
craft, the Air Mobility Control Centre,
325 Expeditionary Combat Support
Squadron and 84WG were approached
to provide the six observers who would
accompany the aircrew and assist with
lookout duties on a rotational basis.
The aircraft departed for Honiara at
3am on Friday morning and carried Air
Sea Rescue Kits which can be dropped
to survivors. The kits comprise rations,
first aid kits, survival manuals, fire light-
ing equipment, signal equipment, sea
dye markers, water and inflatable din-
"We arrived at Honiara and got a
final briefing before departing for the
search area about lunchtime," FLTLT
The Hercules arrived in the search
area, about 300 nautical miles east of
Honiara, about an hour later.
After six hours on-task, the C-130
returned to Honiara and remained there
"We sighted six vessels in the area
and on a couple of occasions thought
we may have sighted it but they proved
to be debris; tree trunks and the like,"
FLTLT Wilkinson said.
The Hercules resumed the search
next morning but after a 10-hour search
had found no traces of the missing ves-
"We were in HF communications
with the RCC and early in the even-
ing they informed us that there was
no further requirement for us," FLTLT
"We returned to Honiara to refuel
and were retasked to Townsville for a
mission to PNG the following day. So,
after refuelling, we flew to Townsville; it
was a long day."
"It's always good to get called out
on a real mission rather than a training
one," he said. "It is just unfortunate we
didn't get a better result."
At time of going to print, on the morning
of July 28, a second C-130 flew to Honiara
to resume the search after authorities
received a further distress call from the
missing boat and sought assistance again.
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