Three people rescued after a fishing vessel hits rocks   Date: Monday 11 January, 2016
Three people rescued after a fishing vessel hits rocks

Summary:  Three people rescued after a fishing vessel hits rocks in Northland

At 0351 hours this morning, 11 January, a distress call was heard on VHF Channel 16 from a 12m long line charter vessel declaring they had hit rocks in the Bay of Islands area. Shortly afterwards, contact via VHF Radio was lost with the vessel, however an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) signal was picked up by the Rescue Coordination Centre, RCCNZ.

Coastguard Volunteers were paged to respond to the incident on Bay Rescue which departed Doves Bay Marina 0420 hours for Whale Bay. In addition the Northland Emergency Services Helicopter (NEST) was tasked to the area to use is Radio Direction Finding (RDF) equipment to locate the signal from the EPRIB.

Whilst the fitted EPIRB incorporated the new 406 technology, it was not fitted with GPS so three touch points with a satellite are required to form a triangulation, this put the vessel in Whale Bay however upon arrival Bay Rescue was unable to locate the vessel at that location so began a shore line search. At this point NEST arrived on scene and as Bay Rescue turned around they spotted a light coming from shore.

A further search of the area north of Whale Bay located the vessel on rocks with three people nearby under a cliff in Howe Bay, just southwest of the Nine Pin Rocks in the Bay of Islands. Coastguard Volunteers on board Bay Rescue worked to safely recover the three survivors from the rocks who were shaken and mildly hypothermic but cohesive. They have now been transported by the Coastguard Rescue Vessel back to Doves Bay Marina to an awaiting ambulance.

90% of the vessel is now underwater with the Northland Regional Harbourmaster notified due to the 1600 litres of diesel on board the vessel.

“This is another great example of the various search and rescue agencies working together in the best interest of the victim resulting in another sucessful outcome” says Georgie Smith, Coastguard spokesperson. “The fact that the vessel had multiple forms of communication onboard meant that when one failed another was able to be used, greatly reducing both the search area and time taken to locate the vessel and its crew”.

“The Coastguard Volunteers that responded from Coastguard Bay of Islands were paged out from their homes to respond in the early hours and now return back to base and continue with their day jobs. It’s remarkable really" says Ms Smith.