Crew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion have successfully completed maritime patrols in support of international efforts to monitor sanctions against North Korea, reporting vessels of interest and illicit ship-to-ship transfers to authorities.

The Government announced in October its decision to again deploy a P-3K2 Orion long-range maritime patrol aircraft to support implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea. 

The sanctions resolutions are to persuade North Korea to denuclearise and abandon its ballistic missile capabilities.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the deployment contributed to international efforts to support coordinated sanctions enforcement, involving militaries from other nations.

This was New Zealand’s third deployment of a P-3K2 following previous deployments during October- November last year and in September-October 2018.

During patrols, aircrew on the P-3K2 locate vessels of interest and look to detect any evasions of sanctions such as through illicit ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods such as oil and coal.

Information relating to sanctions evasions was successfully collected again this year and has been provided to the relevant authorities. 

The aircraft and crew were based at Kadena Air Base in Japan and flew patrols above international waters in North Asia.

All personnel followed Covid-19 precautions, including a 14-day isolation period on arrival in Japan. They are also completing 14 days isolation on their return to New Zealand.

The RNZAF detachment commander, Squadron Leader Marcus Hogan, said the complexity of the environment, including the extensive Covid-19 precautions undertaken, had added to the challenge of the deployment.

“But we have achieved outstanding results and have very much enjoyed working with all of the partner nations supporting the mission of enforcing UN sanctions compliance.”

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