NZDF forms part of multinational force protecting APEC leaders

Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray (left), the Commanding Officer of HMNZS Otago, talks to Commander Michael McCarthy, the Commanding Officer of the United States Coast Guard Port Security Unit 305, and Captain Paul O’Grady, the Australian APEC Maritime Support Component Commander, on board HMAS Adelaide.

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel have arrived in Papua New Guinea to form part of a multinational force protecting world leaders attending the APEC summit this weekend.

Sue Douglas, the New Zealand Senior National Officer, said NZDF personnel were working alongside Papua New Guinea troops and police as well as military personnel from Australia and the United States as part of the Joint Security Task Force.

“At the request of the Papua New Guinea government, New Zealand, in coordination with Australia, is providing security support for the successful hosting of APEC 2018,” Ms Douglas said.

“The summit is a rare opportunity to bring world leaders to our region and, together with other APEC member-nations, we want it to be a success.”

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago (foreground) and Royal Australian Navy amphibious ship HMAS Adelaide at anchor off the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby as part of international support to APEC 2018.

The Royal New Zealand Navy’s offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago and its 75 crew members are working alongside the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, Royal Australian Navy and the United States Coast Guard to provide maritime security. A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft, backed by a 20-member detachment, will be providing aerial surveillance, while up to 30 Special Operation Forces soldiers are supporting the security effort.

Major General Gilbert Toropo, the Chief of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Major General Paul McLachlan, the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force for support to APEC, and Colonel Ezekia Wenzel, the chief of joint operations of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, visited Otago while it conducted a security patrol in the lead-up to APEC 2018 Leaders’ Week.

“It was a privilege to host them and an excellent opportunity to show them our rapid response capabilities,” Lieutenant Commander Lorna Gray, the Commanding Officer of Otago, said.

About 15,000 delegates are expected at the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is recognised as the highest level multilateral bloc in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC was established in 1989 to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region and comprises 21 Pacific Rim member-economies.

Lieutenant Commander Matt Kaio (right), the New Zealand Maritime Security Operations Officer for APEC 2018, briefs Captain Phillip Polewara, the Chief of Staff of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, and New Zealand Defence Force officer Colonel Jeremy Ramsden, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, during their visit to offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago.