With Cyclone Gabrielle bearing down, a man in distress on a catamaran has had to be rescued by Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Mana.
CAPTION: Royal New Zealand Navy sailors from HMNZS Te Mana bring a rescued sailor back to their ship during Cyclone Gabrielle. NZDF photo.
The man was rescued by personnel on a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) launched from Te Mana, while crew on a Northland Rescue Helicopter provided overwatch for the safety of all involved.
Maritime Component Commander Commodore Garin Golding said sea conditions had been challenging and everyone involved was pleased the person was now safe on board the ship.
HMNZS Te Mana deployed into the Hauraki Gulf, off Auckland, on Monday evening as part of the search-and-rescue mission for the vessel after its anchor cable snapped in the storm, with the strong winds causing it to drift out to sea.
No air assets were able to reach the vessel at the time due to the severe weather and Te Mana was believed to be the best-equipped ship to respond to the rescue effort in such testing conditions.
With the cyclone hitting the area around 4am this morning, Te Mana and crew continued to search through the night.
Earlier this morning, an emergency locator beacon pinpointed the man and his stricken craft.
Te Mana circled the vessel several times, waiting for the weather conditions to allow its RHIB, with four personnel on board, to be launched and attempt the rescue.
The man, wearing a life jacket, abandoned his vessel and was plucked from the sea by the two Navy divers on board the RHIB.
“We’re very pleased this joint search and rescue has been successful and the person is now safe on board Te Mana,” Commodore Golding said.
The plan now is to disembark the man at Devonport Naval Base this evening.