NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) directed U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command to deploy a P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft to Punta Arenas, Chile, December 10 to support the South American nation’s ongoing search for a Chilean Air Force C-130 Hercules that went missing in the Drake Passage while transporting 38 passengers and crew to the Antarctic.
In response to a request from the government of Chile, the P-8A aircraft and its 20-person crew departed El Salvador’s Comalapa Air Base and arrived in Punta Arenas December 11. The aircraft and crew are expected to begin supporting the ongoing search December 12.
Prior to the P-8A deployment, SOUTHCOM assisted the Chilean search efforts by providing satellite imagery of the search area.
The P-8A Poseidon aircraft was in El Salvador’s Comalapa Air Base supporting counter-illicit trafficking maritime patrol operations as part of a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and El Salvador.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile and with the families of the missing as we join other regional partners supporting Chile’s ongoing search for the C-130, its crew and their passengers,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command.
The P-8A Poseidon is the Navy’s newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft and is configured with state-of-the-art sensors and communications equipment, allowing it to support a wide range of missions over large bodies of water, including sub-surface search-and-rescue operations. It can reach an airspeed of 564 mph, has a ceiling of 41,000 feet and a range of 1,200 nautical miles with four hours on station, allowing it to loiter over search areas.
In 2017, SOUTHCOM deployed two P-8A Poseidon aircraft to Bahia Blanca, Argentina, where they contributed to an internationally supported search for the Argentinean Navy’s submarine A.R.A. San Juan after it went missing in Southern Atlantic waters.
SOUTHCOM is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
LINKS TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
• P-8A Poseidon fact file: http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1300&ct=1
• P-8A Poseidon video: https://www.dvidshub.net/search/?q=+P-8A+Poseidon+aircraft&filter%5Btype%5D=video&view=grid