The ship’s company of destroyer HMAS Hobart rescued six mariners from a 30-metre motor yacht near West Papua on 6 March.
CAPTION: HMAS Hobart’s rigid-hulled inflatable boat team rescues mariners from MY Vivierae II between Australia and Indonesia. Story by Lieutenant Max Logan.
Media reports say the 29m luxury charter yacht ran into issues on Sunday 5 March, giving its coordinates as 08˚47’04.55”S – 137˚31′ 08.43” E – unconfirmed coordinates that put the yacht just 27km off the coast of West Papua and more than 900km from Darwin.
The Indonesian Navy received the distress signal from the yacht, and an Indonesian Navy patrol aircraft and sea assets were deployed for the search.
However, although ADF’s statement on the matter did not explain how or why, the Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Hobart effected the eventual rescue.
The ADF statement said a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) was deployed from HMAS Hobart in unfavourable conditions to enable the rescue of the crew, who had experienced engine trouble and became stranded in international waters north-east of Darwin, near Kolepon (Dolok), Indonesia.
Under the watchful eyes of skilled sailors and officers, the RHIB was launched safely, effecting the difficult transfer of personnel from the disabled MV Vivierae II.
RHIB coxswain Petty Officer Christopher Keillor said he was excited to be part of the rescue.
“It’s a great feeling to be the operator in a situation like this and achieving the mission of getting people to safety,” Petty Officer Keillor said.
“The training we receive to become qualified as RHIB coxswains prepares us well for operating in real situations.”
CAPTION:HMAS Hobart’s rigid-hulled inflatable boat team transports rescued crew members from MY Vivierae II.
Hobart’s navigator Lieutenant Dean Gilbert was in charge of the safe execution of the rescue.
“RHIB operations require focus and careful consideration of the weather conditions and sea state,” Lieutenant Gilbert said.
“There are a lot of moving parts including providing an effective lee to enable the launch and recovery of the RHIB, to achieve a safe breakaway and recovery under challenging conditions.
“The team pulled together excellently for this rescue and it was great to see us achieve it safely.”
One unconfirmed media report says the passengers were taken to Thursday Island.
Other, conflicting, reports say the yacht is now either adrift or at anchor and may be recovered when weather permits.
Another web site says the luxury yacht, with accommodation for eight guests and five crew, costs up to $140,000 per week to charter – so, we guess, owners and insurers alike will be keen to mount a salvage operation.