A New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft today logged its third successful search in 10 days when it found a yacht headed for Fiji which was overdue by almost two weeks.
24 May 2016
A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft today completed its third successful search in 10 days after finding a yacht headed for Fiji which was overdue by almost two weeks.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb said the Orion, from the RNZAF’s No. 5 Squadron, located the 13.6-metre yacht Dignity about 852 kilometres south-east of Lautoka, her intended destination in Fiji.
The yacht, crewed by a 67-year-old man and his 65-year-old wife, left Whangarei on 2 May. The New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre sought the New Zealand Defence Force’s assistance yesterday as the yacht was due to arrive in Lautoka between 12-15 May.
After establishing communications with the boat, the Orion was advised by the couple that they expected to reach Lautoka in three to four days. The crew reported that the couple appeared to be in good health and had sufficient supplies for the remainder of their journey.
The Orion tested the yacht’s old beacon and radio communications before flying back to Whenuapai.
“This mission has once again demonstrated that our air search and rescue capability delivers vital public service both in New Zealand and overseas,” AIRCDRE Webb said.
The RNZAF Orion and NH90 medium utility helicopters have conducted four search and rescue missions in the past 10 days. On 14 May, an Orion found three Kiribati fishermen missing for a week adrift near Tarawa, the Pacific island-nation’s capital and main island. This was followed by the successful search for two Kiribati fishermen on 18 May.
On Monday, a RNZAF NH90 helicopter was called in to assist in the rescue of a group of 38 people including two children, who were stranded overnight in the hills in Central Otago. A heavy blizzard and windy conditions hampered the NH90 crew’s attempt to conduct an aerial reconnaissance and rendezvous with two snowcats dispatched by the Police to move the group below the snowline. Poor weather conditions also prevented earlier attempts by Police, land rescue teams and a civilian rescue helicopter to reach the group.
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