Coast Guard, New Zealand personnel conduct humanitarian relief mission

Coast Guard District 14 NewsPAGO PAGO, American Samoa – The U. S. Coast Guard is supporting New Zealand’s humanitarian relief efforts to assist the residents of the island nation of Tokelau. Approximately 1,500 residents of three islands will receive approximately 36,000 gallons of drinking water from the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Walnut.

Currently the residents of Tokelau have approximately seven days of fresh drinking water.

“Like New Zealand, the United States is committed to helping our Pacific neighbors when they are in need,” said U.S. Ambassador David Huebner. “This is a very real humanitarian need here. We are talking about approximately 1,500 people who could be out of fresh water within a week so we really needed to act very quickly.”

“A Hercules C-130 aircraft from Ohakea, New Zealand will transport several water containers and a seven-person needs assessment team to American Samoa and rendezvous with the Walnut,” said Capt. Eric Brown, response chief for the Fourteenth Coast Guard District. “The Coast Guard is in a unique position to assist New Zealand with this humanitarian mission because we have a capable asset that is available to respond.”

Once Walnut is loaded with water and the needs assessment team is aboard, the crew will make the 358-mile transit from American Samoa to Tokelau. This transit will take approximately 30 hours.

“The Coast Guard routinely supports the Pacific island countries in this region during search and rescue cases and fisheries patrols,” said Rear Adm. Charles W. Ray, Commander Fourteenth Coast Guard District. “Our existing relationships between Pacific island countries are essential to facilitate rapid response during times of need.”

Personnel from the U. S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand contacted Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu Sunday to discuss transporting a New Zealand assessment team and fresh drinking water to Tokelau.

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