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Peak effort for helicopters
November 29, 2018
Capt Dean Benson
THE enduring strength of the partner-
ship between the defence forces of
PNG and Australia has been reinforced
after a safe and successful Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2018
Commander of the PNG Defence
Force’s contribution to the APEC Joint
Security Task Force (JSTF), Col Esekia
Wenzel, said close support from part-
ners including Australia, NZ and the
US helped deliver a “very successful”
Personnel from the three nations
worked alongside their PNG counter-
parts at a partnered headquarters in Port
Moresby to support the JSTF’s over-
all security arrangements throughout
“I’m very happy because it was a
team effort,” Col Wenzel said.
“As our neighbour, Australia has
played a very important part in the
training and capacity building of our
“I’m very impressed, particularly
with the environment of the combined
task force headquarters. This has raised
the PNG Defence Force to a new level.”
Commander of Australia’s Joint
Task Force, Maj-Gen Paul McLachlan,
said Operation APEC 18 Assist would
last long in his memory.
“I have been incredibly impressed
with the PNG JSTF and their abil-
ity to coordinate what is a very com-
plex security operation,” Maj-Gen
“We’ve been given all of the freedom
of actions that we needed to do the tasks
PNG asked of us: the air security, the
maritime security and other contingency
“The level of integration and inter-
operability that we’ve achieved has
been fantastic, and seeing Australian
and Papua New Guinean soldiers, sail-
ors and airmen and women working
together has been the best thing about
“I think the future for the PNG
Defence Force is a bright one.”
JSTF’s Commander, Comm-issioner
Gari Baki, praised Australia’s “exten-
sive” support effort and said he looked
forward to the two nations working
together again in the future.
“Australia has always been a friend
and a partner of PNG and this is the
relationship we need to continue to
build so that when there is another
challenge, we will be well prepared,”
APEC 2018 Leaders’ Week wrapped
up successfully on 18 November after
PNG hosted a year-long program of
economic and trade meetings.
Neighbour’s bright future
Security Task Force for
Gari Baki, left, PNGDF’s
Col Esekia Wenzel and
Australian task force
Paul McLachlan inside
the Joint Operations
Room at Murray
Barracks, Port Moresby.
Photos: AB Kieren Whiteley
Leut Des Paroz
THE joint aviation capability embarked in
HMAS Adelaide achieved key milestones
while deployed to Papua New Guinea during
Operation APEC 18 Assist.
Eight helicopters from three squadrons
embarked to provide logistics, aeromedical,
maritime and shore security support as part
of Joint Task Force 658.
The helicopters included five MRH-90s
from 5 Avn Regt, two MRH-90 Maritime
Support Helicopters from Navy’s 808 Sqn
and a Seahawk MH-60R ‘Romeo’ from
Navy’s 816 Sqn.
Commander of the Aviation Combat
Element, Lt-Col Jamie Martin, said the ship
operated at an all-time high tempo for an
Australian Navy landing helicopter dock.
“With six spots on Adelaide’s deck this
milestone represents near-peak operating lev-
els,” Lt-Col Martin said.
“The aviation elements were a true joint
force, with Navy and Army aircrew and
An Army MRH-90 helicopter takes off
from HMAS Adelaide.
maintainers, Air Force air traffic controllers
and a Navy deck crew.”
Adelaide’s Commander Air, Cmdr Stuart
Baily, said the ship had to take several steps
to prepare for the frequent aviation operations.
“With a requirement to support eight heli-
copters on the ship, up to six operating at a
time and for up to 16 hours a day, Command
identified that we would need to enhance the
aviation department,” he said.
“Several of our personnel were trained in
flight-deck procedures, and have been instru-
mental in the various tasks associated with
ensuring safety of crew and aircraft operating
on the deck, all while gaining great experi-
ence for their naval careers.”
PO Conor Gray supervised Adelaide’s
busy flight deck throughout the operation and
said it was one of his busiest times in recent
“With up to six aircraft on the deck, and
the requirement to move aircraft to the hangar
by one of two lifts, there is always something
happening,” PO Gray said.
“Between refuelling evolutions and load-
ing and unloading the aircraft, there are so
many moving parts, but with a professional
team, good communication and a dose of
humour keep things moving along smoothly.”
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