LEUT Pete Croce (author)
HMAS¬†Newcastle¬†has combined with the Chinese People‚Äôs Liberation Army ‚Äì Navy (PLA-N) warshipMianyang¬†to search for survivors of a damaged fishing trawler in Middle Eastern waters.
Newcastle¬†and¬†Mianyang¬†worked together to conduct a¬†search and¬†rescue operation in the Indian Ocean, 350 nautical miles north of Seychelles.
The ships’ crews conducted an extensive search for survivors of a Taiwanese fishing vessel found badly damaged by fire on 28 June 2013.
Fourteen survivors (1 Taiwanese and 13 Filipino) who abandoned the sinking vessel were recovered from a life raft by another Taiwanese fishing vessel.
Commanding Officer HMAS¬†Newcastle, Commander Paul O‚ÄôGrady said¬†Mianyang¬†and¬†Newcastleworked well together in an effective search.
‚ÄúThe cooperation between the RAN and PLA-N was excellent and demonstrates the commitment that all mariners share to the principal of safety of life at sea,‚Äù Commander O‚ÄôGrady said.
Both¬†Newcastle¬†and¬†Mianyang¬†used their helicopters to widen the search area.
‚ÄúHMAS¬†Newcastle‚Äôs Seahawk helicopter located the burnt fishing vessel and a boarding party subsequently boarded the vessel to search for survivors but none were found,‚Äù Commander O‚ÄôGrady said.
The PLA-N warship,¬†Mianyang¬†located a second life raft with no survivors onboard later in the day.
HMAS¬†Newcastle¬†completed a thorough search of the area from first light until dusk, including four helicopter sorties before leaving the area.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power said¬†Newcastle‚Äôs¬†efforts showed how Navy personnel were playing an active role in keeping people safe in Middle Eastern waters as part of Operation SLIPPER.
‚ÄúHMAS¬†Newcastle¬†is deployed in the Middle East as Australia‚Äôs contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden and enhancing regional maritime security and engagement,‚Äù Lieutenant General Power said.
‚ÄúThis search and rescue mission shows how our presence in the area can help save lives at sea by assisting mariners in trouble as a result of things beyond their control.
‚ÄúNewcastle‚Äôs efforts here with the skilled personnel onboard¬†Mianyang¬†shows the shared bonds and the spirit of cooperation between navies in the pursuit of assisting mariners in peril on the high seas.‚Äù
HMAS¬†Newcastle¬†commenced Operation SLIPPER on 28 May 2013 after taking over from HMASToowoomba.¬† She will hand over to sister ship¬†HMAS¬†Melbourne¬†in mid October 2013.