Fijians among those saved by RNZAF Orion crew

November 24, 2022 2:10 pm

[Photo Supplied]

A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion crew has helped save the lives of seven Kiribati and Fijian fishers during three separate search and rescue operations over five days in the Pacific.

The crew successfully located two vessels in separate searches, but unfortunately, a third boat, which went missing last week, was unable to be found.

The New Zealand Defence Force had been asked by Maritime New Zealand’s Rescue Coordination Centre on behalf of the Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji – to send the Orion.

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The fishing boat was reported overdue after departing Gau Island for Suva, on Saturday night.

Yesterday morning the Orion found the boat drifting in open water about 40 nautical miles to the southeast – and going away from – Kadavu Island.

The three people aboard appeared well and waved at the crew.

One person on the bow was seen attempting to paddle with a makeshift oar.

With no other vessels in the vicinity, the crew dropped a pack with a beacon and radio to the survivors and Fiji Police sent a vessel to their location to take them to safety.

Air Component Commander Air Commodore, Shaun Sexton says it’s been an incredible achievement for his crew, and search and rescue staff in New Zealand, Fiji, and Kiribati, to find the survivors.