Air crew on a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion have found four fishermen who had been reported missing while fishing to the north of Tarawa, Kiribati.
The Rescue Coordination Centre Fiji and the Rescue Coordination Centre NZ requested assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force after the four men went missing in a white and grey hulled 12 foot fibreglass boat.
The men had last been seen in Betio Town, Tarawa on 4 December and had left to go fishing near the northern end of Tarawa.
Kiribati Police searched over the weekend but did not find the men or their boat.
The P-3K2 flew yesterday to Nauru, so it could begin the search for the missing men this morning.
The air crew located the men at about 11.20am. Their boat was drifting approximately 140 nautical miles west of Tarawa.
The air crew dropped a survival pack including a radio to the fishermen, and a nearby fishing vessel was directed to the area to rescue the four. The P-3K2 remained overhead until the four fishermen were taken on board that vessel this afternoon.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore Tim Walshe said the air crew had been able to quickly locate the boat in the search area.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Officer Ramon Davis says the rescue was a great example of international cooperation.
“It’s fantastic that we can work with our Pacific and Air Force colleagues on rescues like this. RCCNZ was proud to help coordinate this successful rescue and get these fisherman home safe and sound.
Last month, air crew of an Orion were also called in for a search and rescue, locating two boats in quick succession after they had been reported missing from Kiribati.