Talisman Sabre MRH-90 incident press conference

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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29 July 2023

SUBJECTS: Talisman Sabre MRH-90 incident.

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Good morning. I am joined this morning by General Angus Campbell, the Chief of The Defence Force, and Brigadier Damian Hill, who is the Exercise Director of Exercise Talisman Sabre.

We meet this day with a heavy heart. Last night, just after 10.30, an Australian Army helicopter, an MRH-90, ditched in waters close to Hamilton Island. The helicopter was engaging in a two helicopter mission. There were four air crew aboard. Because there was another helicopter present, a search and rescue was able to commence immediately. As we speak to you now, the four air crew are yet to be found. The search and rescue continues. The families of the four air crew have been notified of this incident and our hopes and our thoughts are very much with the air crew and their families. Our hopes are very much with the efforts of the search and rescue crews as they go about their work right now.

These are early days and there will be much more information to be provided about this incident. But Defence exercises, which are so necessary for the readiness of our Defence Force, are serious. They carry risk. And as we desperately hope for better news during the course of this day, we are reminded about the gravity of the act which comes with wearing our nation's uniform.

GENERAL ANGUS CAMPBELL, CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCE: Thanks, Deputy Prime Minister. Our focus at the moment is finding our people, and supporting their families and the rest of our team. This is indeed a terrible moment. I really deeply appreciate the assistance that has been provided by a variety of civil agencies, the Queensland Police, the Australian Maritime Safety Agency and the public, as well as our US allies, all of whom have come together to assist, to continue the search and rescue and to find our people. Thank you.

BRIGADIER DAMIAN HILL, TALISMAN SABRE 2023 EXERCISE DIRECTOR: As Exercise Director, I've initiated a Pause-Ex across Australia for all participants of Talisman Sabre to enable them all, regardless of their nation, to reach out and let their families know what is going on. I'll be available throughout the day, in the coming days, as Exercise Director, to provide updates as they become known to us to ensure that everybody is aware of what we’re doing to look after our people.

MARLES: Thank you.


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