The search for the crew of the historic American 21m (70ft) schooner Nina missing en route from Opua in the Bay of Islands to Newcastle, Australia will shift to the shoreline of Northland and offshore islands this morning.
There are seven people on board the schooner, six Americans (three men aged 17, 28 and 58, and three women aged 18, 60 and 73) and a British man aged 35.
To date the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has coordinated two extensive sea-based searches based on different scenarios, covering a combined area of 500,000 square nautical miles. This morning, a shoreline search is being undertaken, based on a third scenario.”We have tasked a twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft to search the shoreline and coast starting at Tauroa Point, searching along 90 mile beach, north of Northland, and out to and around Three Kings Islands. While we have grave concerns for the crew on board Nina, we have not given up hope of finding survivors,” said Mission Controller Neville Blakemore.
The Hamilton-based Phillips Search and Rescue Trust fixed-wing aeroplane Piper Chieftan with the pilot and three observers on board will conduct a search for survivors, the liferaft Nina was carrying, or any wreckage or debris from the schooner. The Piper Chieftan left Hamilton at around 10.00am and arrived at Tauroa Point at around 10.45am. The aeroplane is able to search for approximately seven hours.
The schooner Nina, built in 1928, left Opua on 29 May and has not been heard from since 4 June, when the vessel was about 370 nautical miles west-north-west of Cape Reinga.
There are seven people on board, six Americans (three men aged 17, 28 and 58, and three women aged 18, 60 and 73) and a British man aged 35.
The vessel is equipped with satellite phone, a spot device which allows regular tracking signals to be sent manually, and an emergency beacon. The emergency beacon has not been activated.
After concerns were raised by family and friends, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) instigated a communications search on 14 June, using a range of communications methods to broadcast alerts to the vessel and others in the area.
No sign of the vessel has been reported by any other vessel in the area since 4 June.
RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator Kevin Banaghan said an RNZAF P3 Orion had completed two extensive searches.
On 25 June, a search area of 160,000 square nautical miles was covered, to the immediate north-north-east of New Zealand, based on the vessel being disabled and drifting.
On 26 June, a search was completed of 324,000 square nautical miles between northern New Zealand and the Australian coast, based on the vessel suffering damage but continuing to make progress towards Australia.
To date, no sign of the vessel has been found. Records show that conditions at the last known position for the vessel, on 4 June, were very rough, with winds of 80kmh, gusting to 110kmh, and swells of up to 8m. We do hold grave concerns for the Nina and her crew but remain hopeful of a positive outcome.
RCCNZ is liaising with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), and will continue to review search options.