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boat rescue

HMNZS OTAGO rescues crew of stricken yacht in stormy seas

The Offshore Patrol Vessel HMNZS OTAGO undertook a daring rescue of three stricken yachties in stormy seas north of North Cape on the evening of 8 July.

The 11-metre yacht DJANGO was sailing from Fiji to New Zealand when its rudder broke in four-metre seas. The crew radioed a Mayday. OTAGO was able to get to the yacht as night fell.

The seas were so rough that when OTAGO arrived, the yacht’s crew got into a life raft and were pulled by a rope towards the ship. When that became too dangerous, LT Simon Wasley, the ship’s diver and Operations Officer, jumped in to the sea, swam to the life raft and brought them to the safety of the ship’s winch one by one.

A former member of the Navy’s Operational Diving Team, LT Wasley was the most experienced swimmer onboard and volunteered for the task.

"Anyone who wouldn't be scared in that situation doesn't know the risks," he said when the ship arrived back at Devonport Naval base next day.

According to one of the rescued yachties, Bex Hielkema, it was tremendous when LT Wasley reached the life raft. "It was fantastic to see the face of someone who looked very capable of saving us"

The CO, LT CDR Tim Garvin, said it was challenging controlling the ship in such atrocious weather. The biggest problem came when the ship had to be stopped to pick up the yachties and started rolling heavily.

Picture: From left, LT Wasley and the yachties he dived in to rescue, Andrew Cooke, Bex Hielkema and skipper Ben Costello aboard HMNZS OTAGO.

Navy seeking replacement tanker for HMNZS ENDEAVOUR

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced  Government approval for the NZDF to seek a replacement for the Navy's replenishment tanker HMNZS ENDEAVOUR. ENDEAVOUR is able to refuel our ships and ships of other navies on the high seas but will reach the end of its service life in 2018.

The proposed replacement will have many more capabilities, including the ability to store a much larger amount of fuel (including aviation fuel), store supplies and ammunition, and accommodate an NH90 or Seasprite helicopter. Other possible features being considered could enable the tanker to resupply bases in Antarctica.

The request for tender is expected to be issued by the Ministry of Defence in early 2015. A final recommendation will be made to Cabinet in mid-2016.

Read the minister's statement in full.

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