The US Navy has deployed its maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) to support recovery operations in the earthquake-hit South Island of New Zealand. 

A 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred in New Zealand, which was hosting the International Naval Review.

A P-3C Orion aircraft assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, which was participating in Exercise Mahi Tangaroa as part of the review, has been engaged to assess the area surrounding area of Kaikoura.

"Our aircrew and maintenance professionals have thrown themselves into this relief effort."

It is currently operating from the Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Auckland, located in Whenuapai.

VP 47 commanding officer commander Ryan Cech said: "From the moment we got the word, our aircrew and maintenance professionals have thrown themselves into this relief effort with a commitment that is just so much a part of what our maritime patrol and reconnaissance force stands for.”

The P-3C Orion aircraft is suitable for engagement in wide-area maritime search operations.

The recovery effort in New Zealand is also being supported by Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102), embarked with two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, which will operate alongside New Zealand's four NH-90 helicopters at Blenheim's Woodbourne Air Base.

US Pacific Command commander admiral Harry Harris said: "At the request of the New Zealand Government, the USS Sampson and her two embarked MH-60R helicopters will join the US P-3 (maritime patrol aircraft) that's already on station there in support of the disaster relief effort in New Zealand."

Image: A P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft being directed to its parking spot. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua E Walters/Released.