Kiribati fishermen missing for 6 days rescued by RNZAF

Tue, Jan 17
The two fishermen.

A crew from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has rescued two Kiribati fisherman who had been missing for six days.

The crew of an RNZAF P3K2 Orion were on their aircraft's final search and rescue mission when they spotted the two missing men floating in their dinghy.

It had been six days since the two fishermen left Kiribati and hadn't been seen since.

The Orion crew dropped a survival pack to the men, which included water, a radio, a torch and an activated personal locator to pinpoint their exact position.

Shortly after, the Kiribati search and rescue vessel MV Lady Guadalupe was dispatched to pick up the men.

The rescue comes after a multi-agency effort to try and find the fishers, including a US Coastguard C-130 and Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre.

The RNZAF aircraft was called in when the US Coastguard failed to find anything.

"To do this mission, finding two men on a tiny boat in a vast area of ocean, is certainly a fitting end to Orion’s search and rescue duties, and the crew is obviously thrilled with the result," said Group Captain Mike Cannon.

The mission is likely to be the last for the Orion, as RNZAF No. 5 squadron, who operate the aircraft, are set to hand over their duties in the region to the No. 40 squadron and their C-130 Hercules.

The Air Force’s fleet of Orions is set to be replaced by four Boeing P-8A Poseidons.

"Our Orion aircraft and the generations of people that have flown, maintained and supported them have certainly proved their worth over many years of service, conducting long-range maritime surveillance patrols in a range of theatres," group captain Cannon said.


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