Air Force locates stranded vessel

An RNZAF P3K Orion
An RNZAF P3 Orion

20 March 2009

A Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion crew took just 52 minutes to locate a vessel overdue by two days with all personnel on board safe and well.

The No 5 Squadron P3 Orion launched from Whenuapai Air Force Base at 6:15am and took up the search off the Tongan coast at 9:30am. The stranded vessel, a 17 foot aluminium boat with four people on board including the Governor of Ha'apai and his staff, were found at 10:22am.

The Air Component Commander at NZDF Joint Headquarters, Air Commodore Gavin Howse has complimented the crew; “Once again Air Force Orions of 5 Sqn have reacted quickly to a call for assistance, finding the missing boat and its occupants within an hour of arriving in the Tongan area. 

The Orion dropped radios and equipment to the stricken vessel and will land in Tonga before coordinating a rendezvous with a Tongan patrol craft sailing to the aid of the survivors."

“I'm sure the survivors would have been relieved to see the P3 Orion overhead having been missing for over 48 hours"

The vessel is currently located 200 kilometres north east of Nuku'alofa and approximately 200km east of where the volcano is erupting.


For further information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki, Media Adviser Air Force 04 496 7294 or 021 420 899.

No.5 Squadron is located at RNZAF Base Auckland and is the RNZAF's only maritime patrol Squadron. The Squadron is responsible for surveillance of New Zealand's maritime area of interest which is approximately 1/12 of the world's ocean surface, ranging from the Antarctic to the equator.

No.5 Squadron consists of approximately 145 members and is allocated approximately 2,500 hours a year to meet NZDF Maritime Patrol Force requirements such as:
* Maritime surveillance
* Maritime reconnaissance
* Exclusive Economic Zone patrols
* Search and rescue

This page was last reviewed on 14 October 2010.