NZDF searches for yacht in distress

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is helping search for a yacht that activated its emergency beacon yesterday afternoon about 1600 kilometres east of the Chatham Islands.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the Air Component Commander, said an Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft left Whenuapai in Auckland early this morning and was expected to arrive at the yacht’s position about mid-morning.

“Our priority is to locate the yacht, establish communications with the skipper and provide assistance if required,” Air Commodore Webb said.

The 10.6-metre yacht is skippered by a 64-year-old Polish man on a solo round-the-world voyage. The yacht, which is equipped with a VHF radio and a life raft, left Auckland on 18 March and activated its distress beacon about 3pmyesterday.

Air Commodore Webb said the Orion would relay the yacht’s position to a commercial vessel in the area that had been contacted by Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) to come to its aid. The commercial vessel is expected to reach the yacht later tonight.

The NZDF launched the search and rescue operation following a request from RCCNZ.