22 September 2016
The New Zealand Defence Force has helped find a 22-foot yacht that had been reported missing in the East Cape since Monday.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb said an NH90 helicopter from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No.3 Squadron spotted the yacht Luna within 90 minutes of scouring the coastline between Gisborne and Whakatane this afternoon.
The helicopter left Ohakea at midday, following a request for assistance from the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCC).
“The successful search is a fantastic outcome for all involved. Our crews get a huge amount of satisfaction from these sorts of missions, where the potential for loss of life is involved,” AIRCDRE Webb said. .
“Locating the vessel so quickly once on station is testament to the skill and training of the crew.”
RCC said the yacht was manned by a 20-year-old skipper with limited sailing experience. A search plane found the yacht anchored in Anaura Bay on Monday afternoon. The boat was intact and the skipper appeared to be safe and well.
Authorities said the yacht had little navigational equipment on board. It is equipped with a VHF radio and the skipper has a mobile phone but both remain unanswered since last contact was made on 16 September.
The RNZAF NH90 medium utility helicopters and the P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft have flown about 170 flying hours on 19 search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the south-west Pacific since January.