Royal Australian Air Force crews have helped save the lives of 13 people onboard two vessels at the opposite ends of Australia over a two-day period.
In the first incident, an AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and its specialist crew located a vessel in distress with 12 people onboard about 520 nautical miles north-east of Port Moresby on the afternoon of Saturday 19 January.
The crew had been assisting a Rescue Coordination Centre – Australia request to find another boat with six people onboard that had been missing off the coast of Papua New Guinea for three days.
In the second effort, a C-130J Hercules crew from Richmond provided life-saving equipment to a sailor in distress about 450 nautical miles south-west of Hobart.
Air Commodore Gavin Turnbull, Director General of Air and Space Operations, commended the air crews and their valiant work in saving the lives of people at sea.
“All of the air crew and support personnel can be proud of their efforts to save the lives of these people who were in distress at sea,” Air Commodore Turnbull said.
“The Orion crews were instrumental in saving the lives of 12 people in a small vessel off the coast of Papua New Guinea who were not known to search and rescue authorities at the time.
“The Orion crew notified rescue authorities to coordinate a response and also dropped water and a radio to sustain the people onboard until they were rescued by a civilian ship in the area.
“The people onboard the small boat were very lucky that our crews were searching in the area at the time––they were a long way from the coast.
“The crew was in the final day of a 4800 square nautical mile search for another vessel in distress missing off Papua New Guinea at the time,” Air Commodore Turnbull said.
In the search and rescue effort off Tasmania, a C-130J Hercules aircraft dropped vital survival stores including a radio, water, food and a cold water protection suit to a French sailor whose yacht, Tchouk Tchouk Nougat, sank in heavy seas 490 nautical miles south-west of Hobart.
The crew returned on Sunday to check the sailor’s condition and monitor the life raft while directing a civilian vessel, MV Orion, to rescue him.
A second C130J was dispatched to maintain over watch of the sailor during the recovery phase of the operation.
Naval Today Staff, January 23, 2013; Image: Australian MoD