Sep 4, 2012

Strengthening Australia-Indonesia search and rescue coordination

Australia-Indonesia search and rescue coordination have been strengthened following a high level meeting between Ministers from both countries in Jakarta today.

Ministers agreed to expand the $38.4 million Indonesia Transport Safety Assistance Package which began in 2007, to provide for additional bilateral coordination on search and rescue activities.

As maritime nations, Australia and Indonesia have a mutual interest in effective search and rescue for people travelling by sea in our region.

Our respective search and rescue agencies, BASARNAS and AMSA, have been working closely together for some years to improve capability and coordination of search and rescue activities in our region.  Activities undertaken to date include search and rescue exercises, short-term officer secondment and training in aeronautical search and rescue operations.

Under the agreement reached today the Australian Government will make an additional $4.42m available to enhance coordination between BASARNAS and AMSA and provide for an exchange of expertise and experience to improve search and rescue outcomes in our region.

The extended arrangements will establish an exchange program of search and rescue specialists between BASARNAS and AMSA and enhance access by Indonesia to the latest ship tracking information and satellite communications technology.

We will also share our experience and expertise on the coordination of search and rescue activities to assist in the deployment of appropriate vessels to assist people in distress.

This agreement marks another milestone in the long and significant relationship between our nations.

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OVERVIEW OF KEY ACTIVITIES

 1.    Officer exchange between BASARNAS and AMSA

Exchange officers will be embedded in their counterpart agencies and will be available to assist during SAR operations.  They will also take part in training and mentoring and gain exposure to their counterpart agency’s operating environment.  The AMSA officers attached to BASARNAS will be able to assist with other activities including bedding in the enhanced picture and communications capabilities.

 2.    Enhanced ship tracking information

This capability will provide an accurate near-real-time picture of ships operating in or transiting through the Indonesian search and rescue region.  BASARNAS will have the ability to identify merchant vessels capable of assisting during search and rescue operations.

3.    Enhanced maritime satellite communications

This capability will allow BASARNAS to rapidly communicate via Inmarsat satellite communications to the merchant vessels identified from the vessel picture during search and rescue operations.  Vessels can be contacted via a distress broadcast or directly to individual ships.  Ships can then be diverted to assist with SAR operations.

4.    Additional search and rescue exercises

This component of the project package provides for more advanced and challenging search and rescue exercises (SAREX) to build on capabilities developed over recent years.  The exercises will allow for deployment of SAR assets and coordination of assets from multiple agencies.

5.    Regular search and rescue discussions

It is planned to commence a regular series of meetings or workshops to share technical information and promote mutual understanding.  The meetings will be held alternatively in Australia and Indonesia and promote best SAR practice.

6.    Aircraft Access

The Ministers have agreed to explore further rapid clearance for Australian aircraft to operate in Indonesian Territorial Airspace and to land to refuel at suitable airfields when engaged in SAR activities in cooperation with Indonesia.