NZDF

NZDF Finds Missing Kiribati Fishermen

The New Zealand Defence Force has found three Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for four days in the Pacific Ocean.
The New Zealand Defence Force has found three Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for four days in the Pacific Ocean.

18 October 2017

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has found three Kiribati fishermen who have been missing for four days in the Pacific Ocean.

It is the second successful search and rescue operation for the NZDF in two weeks.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander, said crew from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft spotted the men shortly after starting their second day of search west of Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati.

“Search and rescue missions aim to save lives, so we are pleased to achieve another successful outcome,” Air Commodore Webb said.

“While this brings relief to the men and their families, we hope that this incident reinforces our longstanding message about the importance of having communications and emergency equipment and supplies on private fishing vessels.”

The Orion had dropped a radio and bottles of water to the men and passed on their boat’s location to a local patrol boat, which was also involved in the search, Air Commodore Webb said.

The men were last seen leaving on a five-metre boat at 6am on 14 October from Betio Island, the largest township of Kiribati’s capital city, South Tarawa. The men, who had been due home on Saturday afternoon, had no emergency equipment or supplies.

The Orion, which was tasked to conduct a fisheries patrol north of New Zealand, was reassigned on Tuesday to search for the fishermen following a request from the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).

Air Commodore Webb said the search area had been expanded to 48,000 square kilometres in consultation with RCCNZ, from 30,000 square kilometres on Tuesday.

The NZDF flew 234 hours on 19 search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the Pacific in 2016, up 59 per cent from the 147 flying hours recorded the previous year. Since January, it has flown 70 hours on six search and rescue missions.

This page was last reviewed on 18 October 2017, and is current.