ADF OPERATION TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF AUSTRALIANS AND APPROVED FOREIGN NATIONALS IN FIJI

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Operation QUICKSTEP

Australia: Fiji 31 October 2006 – 22 December 2006.

AO: Fiji and its land, internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea and superjacent airspace and the exclusive economic zone of Fiji.

Operation QUICKSTEP was the ADF operation to ensure the safety of Australians and approved foreign nationals in Fiji that saw a taskforce deployed in the South Pacific prepared to evacuate Australians from Fiji following the military coup in that country.

Deployed: One landing platform amphibious, one Sea King Helicopter, one frigate, one Seahawk Helicopter, one replenishment vessel, one P-3C Orion aircraft, multiple C-130 Hercules and Boeing 707s, four UH-60 helicopters, Evacuation handling teams, an Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) contingent, an Commando Contingent, approximately 50 additional medical staff providing a level 3 surgical capability, and two Defence supplementation staff.

On 29 November 2006, a S-70 Blackhawk operating from Kanimbla crashed while attempting to land on the ship's deck, falling overboard and sinking in 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) of water. Nine of the ten crewmembers were rescued, with one, the pilot Captain Mark Bingley, dying from injuries. The tenth crewmember, Trooper Joshua Porter, was lost and declared dead several days later. On 6 March 2007, the Minister for Defence announced that the Defence Maritime Services vessel MV Seahorse Standard had recovered Porter's body from a depth of approximately 2,900 metres (9,500 ft).

The predicted coup d'état was carried out with minimal violence and no bloodshed on 4–5 December 2006, with government officials placed under house arrest and Fiji's parliament dissolved.

On the forces committed to the possible evacuation commenced return to Australia on 17 December. The feared violence had not occurred, and civilian flights to Fiji continued without disruption during the takeover. The need for a military-backed evacuation force was not evident at that point in time.

Killed: 2 - Further details can be found here: http://www.peacekeepers.asn.au/vale.htm

Veterans’ Entitlements Determination dated 22 November 2007: Non-warlike Service.

Awards: Australian Service Medal (ASM) with Clasp 'S. PACIFIC 2006' - 30 days/30 sorties.

ASM 1988

ASM with Clasp
'S. PACIFIC 2006'