Approximately 220 U.S. service members will participate in this year's Hong Kong search and rescue exercise, Dec. 1-4, 1998, in Hong Kong. Conducted by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, the annual exercise enables participants to practice and observe peacetime search and rescue operations in the Hong Kong region.
U.S. participation includes Air Force and Coast Guard personnel from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu; Air National Guard HC-130 from Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska; Navy P-3 from Kadena Air Base, Japan; and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Rush, with an embarked HH-65 helicopter from the 14th District, Honolulu.
HK SAREX 98 involves a variety of search and rescue operations including a short-range water rescue demonstration and a long-range search exercise involving the simulated ditching of an aircraft up to 100 miles offshore. The United States and Hong Kong have participated in these exercises since the signing of a search and rescue agreement in 1976.
The exercise will also feature a demonstration of the coast guard computer-aided search planning program and a symposium on international SAR topics. The Hong Kong SAREX gives U.S. controllers the opportunity to train with Hong Kong civil aviation department personnel for possible real world contingencies.
In addition to SAREX, the United States Navy conducts 50-60 port calls a year to Hong Kong. This program has continued uninterrupted since the reversion of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China sovereignty. Port calls to Hong Kong contribute to U.S. overseas presence in the region, allowing for minor maintenance and repair of transiting ships. Continued access to one of the world's premier quality-of-life ports contributes positively to sailor retention and also serves as symbolic support for the continued autonomy of Hong Kong as called for in the 1984 United Kingdom-People's Republic of China Joint Declaration, and Hong Kong's Basic Law.
Point of contact for more information is Capt. Bill Harrison at (808) 449-2834.