A New Zealand Defence Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft today clocked up a second successful search and rescue mission for the Air Force in five days when it found two Kiribati fishermen who were reported missing last week.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore Darryn Webb said the Orion, from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s 5 Squadron, spotted the two men waving from their 4.5m skiff 30 minutes into the planned search of more than 60,000 square kilometres of open sea.
The skiff was found adrift about 480km south-east of Nauru.
The aircrew reported that the men appeared to be in good health and dropped them a survival pack of food, water and a radio, then contacted the closest fishing vessel, MV Nakoraoi, with a request to pick up the two men.
The fishermen had been missing since 13 May and NZDF assistance was requested through the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Centre yesterday.
The aircraft left Base Auckland at Whenuapai about 7am today and arrived at the search area about 1pm.
“The quick and successful search for the fishermen is great news for their families,” AIRCDRE Webb said.
“We are pleased that we are able to help our Pacific neighbours on these lifesaving missions.
Last Saturday an RNZAF Orion found three Kiribati fishermen missing for a week adrift near Tarawa, the Pacific Islands nation’s capital and main atoll.
The NZDF has deployed the Orion to conduct five search and rescue operations in the Pacific since January, including four to Kiribati.