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Navy helicopter training turns into real rescue

Squadron Leader Philip mc Bride being lowered by winch into boat in the Hauraki Gulf. photo courtesy of Mr Chris Marston
LTCDR Philip McBride is lowered by winch in the Hauraki Gulf (photo courtesy of Chris Marston)

03 March 2010

What started out as a training exercise on 16 February for the crew of Royal New Zealand Navy Seasprite 04, turned into a real life emergency when a distress call came over the radio.

The 6 Squadron crew were operating out over the Hauraki Gulf in the vicinity of Kawau Island on a 2 hour Observer training sortie. With approximately half an hour left in the sortie the crew received an emergency Pan broadcast on the maritime distress frequency regarding a diver with suspected decompression sickness on a boat between the Noises and Rakino Island.

The crew responded immediately to the broadcast, increased to max speed and started tracking directly for the scene. After a 10 minute transit the boat was located and they circled overhead the vessel. Once contact had been made with the boat, Observer Instructor Lieutenant Commander Philip McBride was winched to the boat and once there he assessed the diver’s condition as being unable to be winched up aboard the Helicopter. Subsequently the boat went to a beach on the Noises where the helicopter landed and the diver was rushed aboard.

The Seasprite crew then departed the Noises for North Shore Hospital. Unfortunately, the Helicopter landing pad being used by a Westpac Rescue Helicopter so the crew had to land the Seasprite in the Carmel College sports field located next to the Hospital. The diver was escorted to a waiting ambulance which took him to North Shore Hospital then later taken to the Naval Hyperbaric Unit for treatment.

Seasprite 04 Crew

Pilot - LTCDR Owen Rodger, hometown - Canterbury
Observer - SLT Christian Robertson, hometown - Hamilton
Helicopter Crewman - POHCM Jayden Strickland, hometown - Hawkes Bay
Observer Instructor - LTCDR Philip McBride, hometown - Nelson


While not being its primary task, 6 Squadron is capable of Search And Rescue tasking and maintains this capability as a service to the Royal New Zealand Navy Fleet and New Zealand public.

For further information please contact Lieutenant Sarah Campbell, Senior Media Adviser - Navy 021-244 0638

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