Latest update: #11
4 July 2013: 6.45am
An RNZAF P3 Orion will depart this morning to resume searching for the crew of an American schooner missing en route
from New Zealand
The 21m (70ft) Nina
, sailing from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Newcastle with seven people on board, has not been heard from since 4 June. Extensive aerial searches over the past nine days have found no trace of the crew or their vessel or liferaft
. Heavy rain and poor visibility prevented any searching yesterday.
Coordination Centre New Zealand
(RCCNZ) has tasked the Orion to search a rectangular area north of and parallel to another area searched by radar
on Wednesday last week. The aircraft is expected to depart at around 9am or 10am and will search for about five hours, covering an area of 73,000 square nautical miles that extends as far west as the Middleton and Elizabeth reefs
in the Tasman Sea. Today’s search will take the total coverage during the search for Nina
to more than 689,500 square kilometres.
RCCNZ Operations Manager John Seward said today’s search area was identified during reassessment overnight of the data gathered from earlier searches and the results of drift modelling from the last known positions for the yacht on 4 June. He said almost all of the new search area has not been searched previously, apart from 2,100 square nautical miles covered on Tuesday.
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 seven searches, with an RNZAF P3K2 Orion aircraft covering a combined area of more than 615,000 square nautical miles. 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. Records show that conditions at the vessel’s last known position were very rough, with winds of 80kmh gusting to 110kmh and swells of up to 8m.
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. RCCNZ determined that the vessel should have arrived at its intended destination
by 25 June, and aerial searches were instigated when it had not arrived by that date.
An aerial search south of Norfolk, covering approximately 2,100 square nautical miles. The P3 Orion was airborne at 6am and searched until 4.30pm before returning to New Zealand.
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 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.
Note to media:
No updates will be issued until further information becomes available.