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Abandoned Ship Sparks Air Force Call Out

20 November 2008

Abandoned Ship Sparks Air Force Call Out

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion has been deployed to undertake a search and rescue (SAR) mission for 29 missing Taiwanese fishermen.

The Air Force, in coordination with the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC), became alerted after a Taiwanese Long Liner was located by a Korean fishing boat in a burnt out condition, still afloat but with no one on board in the Fiji SAR region.

A subsequent search of the vessel showed the three life rafts and a rescue boat were missing and it is hoped that the 29 crew abandoned ship in the life rafts.

RNZAF Air Component Commander Air Commodore Gavin Howse said the Orion left New Zealand yesterday tasked with searching the 21000 square mile search area over the next few days.

“The plan is to give the aircrew three full days of searching a vast area that has been calculated by us and the RCC. The search area will be subdivided into smaller areas of higher probability to ensure that the most effective use of the aircraft time is achieved.

“Despite the time that has elapsed since the vessel’s last VMS transmission on the 28 October and the Air Force receiving details of its missing status on 17 November, Air Force personnel from No. 5 Squadron are well trained in maritime search and rescue and can successfully locate missing vessels in the most adverse conditions.

“However, this will certainly be a test of our search and rescue capabilitities,” said Air Commodore Howse.

The crew is expected to return to New Zealand on Saturday.


Background Notes

- The RNZAF maintains a P-3K2 Orion and crew on 24 hour search and rescue call out 365 days of the year. A permanent crew is always on two hour call out standby.
- The P-3K2 Orion has a flight time of 15 hours during search and rescue operations with engines shut down to preserve fuel.
- The RNZAF is funded for 80 search and rescue flying hours annually.

- RNZAF No. 5 Squadron has undertaken 8 successful search and rescue operations this year.


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