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Maritime search lessons build China, Australia, NZ military co-op

2014-11-21 09:24 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Defense forces from China, Australia and New Zealand have been sharing lessons from search and rescue operations, such as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in order to improve cooperation, the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF) said on Friday. [Special coverage]

A 15-person New Zealand and Australian combined military and civilian delegation took part in Exercise Cooperation Spirit, which was hosted by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy at their naval command college in Nanjing, China, said an NZDF statement.

Around 50 participants discussed lessons from the search for MH370, China's response to Typhoon Butterfly in September 2013, and search and rescue operations conducted by the New Zealand Defense Force and Rescue Coordination Center.

Head of the 10-person Australian delegation, navy Captain Michael Harris, detailed the air and surface search for MH370 that involved 19 aircraft and 16 ships from eight countries.

"It was to be the largest air search in the history of aviation, " Harris said in the statement.

"The search for MH370 was made difficult by the lack of a known crash site. Consequently, the search area changed a number of times while information about the aircraft's flight path became known."

The PLA Navy provided an overview of their search for more than 400 missing fishermen after Typhoon Butterfly, regarded as the most destructive storm in 35 years when it devastated remote Chinese islands.

The NZDF presented lessons from maritime search and rescue (SAR) conducted in their SAR Area of Operations, an area of 30 million square km and one of the largest search regions in the world.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Squadron Leader Simon Eichelbaum said in the statement that the SAR region covered seven nations and bordered six others, requiring extensive coordination and cooperation.

The statement also quoted PLA Navy Senior Captain Lin Hua as saying, "This exercise will lay a solid foundation for tri-country military aircraft and military ships involved in HADR ( humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) in maritime search and rescue and will improve coordination and cooperation and build mutual confidence."

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