NZDF Completes Maritime Surveillance Mission in the Middle East

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) completed its year-long maritime surveillance mission in the Middle East yesterday, flying more than 1000 hours and helping an international naval coalition seize heroin with an estimated value of $700 million.

The NZDF sent a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and a 55-member detachment to the Middle East in February 2017 to work as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) for 12 months. The Orion flew a total of 1010 hours on 135 missions.

“I’d like to send my congratulations to the detachment,” says Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “Their hard work has helped lead to four CMF drug busts in the Indian Ocean which is a huge blow to the criminal organisations involved.

“The profits from illegal drug smuggling in the Indian Ocean, more often than not, are used to finance terrorism. It is important that New Zealand partners with the international community to stem this flow of funding.

 “I recently had the honour of meeting with the team on my recent trip to the Middle East. I was not only impressed by their professionalism, skill and dedication, but also how much their contribution was valued by the CMF and our international partners. 

 “New Zealanders should be proud of them,” says Mr Mark.

The CMF is a 32-nation naval partnership seeking to promote security across 8.2 million square kilometres of international water, which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

It includes three combined task forces, which are focused on defeating global terrorism, preventing piracy and narcotics smuggling, and promoting a safe maritime environment.

Major General Tim Gall the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said New Zealand played its part in maintaining global security and the NZDF’s continued participation in the CMF further demonstrated this.

The drug busts supported the CMF’s efforts to stem the flow of funds for terrorist activities in the Middle East region and internationally, Major General Gall said.

“Our successes in this mission are a testament to the hard work of our personnel and show what we can achieve by working with other nations.”

Squadron Leader Adam O’Rourke, who led the NZDF’s 55-member maritime surveillance detachment, said one of the rewards of being part of this mission was knowing that the work of the team had a direct impact on illegal activity, by taking away terrorists’ income streams.

“It’s great to know that our contribution makes a difference,” Squadron Leader O’Rourke said.

“Representing our country in a coalition, contributing to the larger team’s success, and showcasing the professional work that our team does every day are the other rewarding aspects.”

The aircraft and crew arrive back in New Zealand in early March.