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Abandoned Ship Sparks Air Force Call Out

23 November 2008

Abandoned Ship Sparks Air Force Call Out – Final



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The Fiji Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) in conjunction with RCC New Zealand, and after consultation with their counterparts in Taipei, has suspended the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) involvement in the search for 29 fishermen missing in the ocean off Kiribati.

An RNZAF P-3K Orion and 14 crew had been searching for the crew of the Ta Ching 21after it 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 on 9 November. Life rafts were missing from the Taiwanese long liner.

With more than 100% of search area now covered without any sighting and with no new information received that would indicate other areas to search the airborne search has been officially called off by the RCC in Suva.

Over the last three days the P-3K Orion has covered more than 10000 square miles of ocean and the crew has flown more than 30 hours of search operations.

RNZAF P-3K Orion captain Squadron Leader Mike Pearson said that the crew had made a thorough and complete check of the search area, unfortunately without success.

“Without more information coming to hand or possible sightings being made known to us we are not left with too many more options at this stage.

"We will head home tomorrow (Monday) and take further direction from the RCC in Suva and New Zealand should our services be required at a later date," said Squadron Leader Pearson.

The RNZAF will maintain a P-3K Orion and crew on two hour standby to assist in the search should a request be made to do so.

No further information is available at this time. Inquiries from this point about the search and rescue for the crew of the Ta Ching 21 should be made to the RCC in New Zealand or Suva.

ENDS

Background Notes

- The RNZAF maintains a P-3K 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-3K 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.

- The RNZAF Orion fleet is currently being upgraded. The scope of this project includes the replacement of the data management, sensors, communications and navigation systems, and the provision of associated ground systems.


P-3K Orion
Manufacturer Lockheed (USA)
Powered plant Four Allison T56-A 14 engines, (4,600 shaft horsepower)
Length 36m (117ft)
Wingspan 30.4m (99ft)
Height 10.3m (34ft)
Basic weight 30,450kgs (67,000lbs)
Gross weight 54,950kgs (127,500lbs)
Max fuel 27300kgs (60,000lbs)
Cruising speed 630km/h (340kts)
Ferry range approx 7,100km (3,850NM)
Typical performance Radius of action of 1,850km (1,000NM) with 4 hours on station.
Endurance of 15 hrs with two engines shut down to conserve fuel.

Note: All performance figures for still air, ISA conditions with standard fuel reserves.

Crew Normally 12 comprising of two pilots, two flight engineers, three air warfare officers (including tactical co-ordinator), four air warfare specialists and one air ordnanceman. Can carry a maximum of 21 personnel including crew.

ENDS

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