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Grave concerns for missing schooner – update 6

Grave concerns for missing schooner – update 6

The search for the crew of the American 21m (70ft) schooner Nina missing en route from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Newcastle, Australia, has resumed today (1 July).

The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has today requested an RNZAF P3 Orion to search an area north of Northland. The P3 Orion arrived at the search area at around 9.30am and will search until approximately 5pm. The search will use visual and radar methods to look for any sign of the missing schooner or its life raft.

RCCNZ Mission Controller Jeff Lunt said the search area, centred 160 nautical miles north of North Cape is expected to cover approximately 3,780 square nautical miles, has been calculated for a life raft search. If time is available and there’s daylight, the search area will be extended.

Today’s search follows a search yesterday of 4,830 square nautical miles north east of Northland and an extensive aerial shoreline search along the northern west coast of New Zealand on 28 and 29 June. The search areas have been determined by RCCNZ based on drift modelling from the last known position of the yacht on 4 June and two days of coastal searching.

RCCNZ is liaising with Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia), and will continue to review search options. RCC Australia is assisting RCCNZ 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 five searches based on different scenarios, covering a combined area of over 600,000 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 has not been heard from since 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 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.

Search summary
30 June
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.

29 June
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 departed at around 11.30am and was on scene at around 11.45am.

28 June
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. “Unfortunately there was no sign of the vessel or crew," said RCCNZ Mission Coordinator Neville Blakemore.

The Hamilton-based Phillips Search and Rescue Trust fixed-wing Piper Chieftain aeroplane with the pilot and three observers on board left Hamilton at around 10.00am and arrived at Tauroa Point at around 10.45am, and searched throughout the day until 5pm.

26 June
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.
25 June
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.

To date, no sign of the vessel has been found. 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.


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