RCC Update #8
2 July 2013: 8.00am
The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand
(RCCNZ) has tasked an RNZAF P3 Orion to conduct a search of two areas south of Norfolk Island today, as the search for the crew of an American schooner enters its seventh day.
The 21m (70ft) Nina
, with seven people on board, went missing en route
from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Newcastle, Australia
, and has not been heard from since 4 June.
Extensive ocean and shoreline searches in previous days have covered an area about four times the size of New Zealand
, with no sightings of the missing vessel or its liferaft
The P3 Orion was airborne at 6am this morning and will search throughout daylight hours before returning to New Zealand. The search areas will cover 1,700 square nautical miles south-east and 4,000 square nautical miles south-west of Norfolk Island.
RCCNZ mission coordinator Chris Henshaw said the search areas were identified as the result of data modelling and interpretation of drift patterns from the last known position of the yacht on 4 June and other environmental factors, as well as information gathered during the previous searches.
Mr Henshaw said today’s searches will be primarily visual, with the aircraft flying slowly at low altitudes in a tight pattern, to provide optimal conditions for the observers on board. He said the searchers are looking for a liferaft
, whereas earlier searches using radar
and covering wider expanses of ocean were aimed at locating the schooner.
RCCNZ is liaising with Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia), which is assisting with broadcasts on coastal radio
. New Zealand Maritime Radio
is continuing to conduct broadcasts in New Zealand’s search and rescue region.
There are seven people on board the schooner Nina
, six Americans (three men
aged 17, 28 and 58, and three women aged 18, 60 and 73) and a British man aged 35.
To date, the RCCNZ has coordinated six searches, covering a combined area of more than 613,000 square nautical miles using an RNZAF P3K2 Orion aircraft. Two aerial shoreline searches have also been conducted (on 28 and 29 June) but no sign has been found of the vessel or its crew.
The schooner Nina
, built in 1928, left Opua on 29 May and was last heard from on 4 June, when the vessel was about 370 nautical miles west-north-west of Cape Reinga.
The vessel is equipped with satellite phone
, a spot tracking device which allows regular tracking signals to be sent manually, and an emergency
beacon. The emergency
beacon has not been activated.
After concerns were raised by family
and friends, the RCCNZ instigated a communications search on 14 June, using a range of communications methods to broadcast alerts to the vessel and others in the area.
An aerial search of approximately 3,780 square nautical miles north of North Cape. The P3 Orion arrived on scene at about 9.30am and continued searching until 6pm. Conditions in the search area were good, with excellent visibility.
An extensive aerial shoreline search of 4,830 square nautical miles north-east of Northland. The P3 Orion arrived at the search area at around 8am and conducted an aerial and radar search until approximately 4pm.
An extended shoreline search for the crew was undertaken for a second day without success. RCCNZ tasked a helicopter to perform a coastal search from Port Waikato to New Plymouth. The Tauranga-based Phillips Search and Rescue helicopter was on scene at around 11.45am.
A twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft was tasked to search the shoreline and coast starting at Tauroa Point, along Ninety Mile Beach, north of Northland, and out to and around Three Kings Islands.
The Hamilton-based Phillips Search and Rescue Trust fixed-wing Piper Chieftain aeroplane with the pilot and three observers on board arrived at Tauroa Point from Hamilton at about 10.45am, and searched throughout the day until 5pm.
A search was completed of 324,000 square nautical miles between northern New Zealand and the Australian coast, based on the vessel suffering damage but continuing to make progress towards Australia.
A search area of 140,000 square nautical miles was covered, to the immediate north-north-east of New Zealand, based on the vessel being disabled and drifting.
Records show that conditions at the last known position for the vessel, on 4 June, were very rough, with winds of 80kmh gusting to 110kmh and swells of up to 8m.
Note to media:
An update will be issued when further information becomes available.
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