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NZDF Finds Stricken NZ Sailor in Pacific Ocean

The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to search for a New Zealand yacht that activated its emergency beacon early this morning about 166 kilometres east of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean.
The New Zealand Defence Force has found the New Zealand sailor who activated his yacht’s emergency beacon early this morning about 166 kilometres east of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean.

18 November 2017

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has found the New Zealand sailor who activated his yacht’s emergency beacon early this morning about 166 kilometres east of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft spotted the skipper of SV Waimanu waving from a life raft a few minutes after reaching the yacht’s reported location around midday.

“The crew has yet to establish communications with the skipper but he is moving around in the life raft and waving at our aircraft,” Air Commodore Webb said.

“We are pleased to be able to help.”

Air Commodore Webb said the crew had dropped a survival pack with water, food and a note to the yachtsman.

“The Hercules will stay in the area until MV Norfolk Guardian, a commercial vessel requested by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) to divert and help in the rescue, arrives at the scene around mid-afternoon,” he said.

Rescuers will have to contend with southerly winds of 35 knots and swells of up to three metres, Air Commodore Webb said.

RCCNZ requested NZDF support to locate Waimanu after it sent a distress call early this morning. The 10-metre yacht, which is equipped with a life raft and a handheld VHF radio, was sailing from Vanuatu to Marsden Point on the east coast of Northland.

The NZDF flew 234 hours on 19 search and rescue missions in New Zealand and the Pacific in 2016, up 59 per cent from the 147 flying hours recorded the previous year. Since January, it has flown more than 80 hours on seven search and rescue missions. Its last search and rescue operation, on October 18, involved three Kiribati fishermen who had been missing for four days in the Pacific Ocean.

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