Pacific navy exercise to simulate major disaster
Huge naval exercise to improve response to Pacific disasters.
The New Zealand Navy is hosting its largest naval exercise in decades later this month, with more than 600 personnel from 14 nations taking part.
It will feature a simulated exercise after a huge earthquake and tsunami hits a remote Pacific Island.
One of the organisers, Commander Simon Griffiths, explains.
SIMON GRIFFITHS: We are hosting the Mines Counter Measures and Diving Exercise. We are hosting it on behalf of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium and we will be holding it in the Auckland region and throughout the Hauraki Gulf for 3 weeks between the 17th of February and the 7th of March.
DON WISEMAN: The critical thing is going to be this focus on the aftermath of a very large earthquake and tsunami.
SG: The aim of the exercise is to bring our regional partners together to react to a possible real world natural disaster. It could be in or near our backyard. The exercise is going to be run on a fictional scenario that will test all the participants and our ability to work together and so enable us to deliver aid to an isolated part of the South Pacific. And in the case of this exercise, after it's been affected by an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami.
DW: So you would be looking at impromptu landings and this sort of thing.
SG: The aim of this exercise is a small part of what would be a bigger operation. For our exercise, over 3 weeks, the ships, the dive, and the MCM [Mine Counter Measures] teams that are going to be involved will perform a number of tasks with the aim of establishing a point of entry from sea that would enable us to get aid into a disaster zone.
DW: You are going to create a fictional tropical island somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf.
SG: That's right. We will transform the Hauraki Gulf into a fictional island where we can practise our techniques in clearing a pathway into that safe beach or point of entry so that we can then get the aid into the disaster zone.
DW: How would you measure the success of such an exercise?
SG: The success of this exercise is more about bringing our regional partners together. The aim is really to foster the inter-operability between those nations, to foster the relationships and to work towards improving our collective and also individual capabilities to react to such a situation.
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