THE Fiji navy says the details of a distress call received over the weekend were not clear.
Navy Commander John Fox made the comments is response to an article in The Fiji Times this week regarding a search-and-rescue mission which highlighted the delay in a response from the authorities.
"The message wasn't clear and we had to trace the call, meaning we had to call nearby resorts to confirm the position of the yacht," Cdr Fox said.
"The first message that came to us was from the Ports Authority and from there we had to trace the call."
Cdr Fox clarified that the navy co-ordinated all rescue missions but was not involved in salvaging operations.
"We only conduct search-and-rescue operations. We co-ordinate the rescue by picking up the co-ordinates of the vessel and from there we broadcast the co-ordinates to all nearby vessels. Resorts are not obliged to pick up the broadcast but in this case, they did and we are grateful they were involved in the rescue."
The incident occurred about 18 to 20 nautical miles offshore and about two miles from the Vanua Levu Barrier Reef where three foreigners — an Australian and two Spaniards — found themselves caught on a reef.
A second witness to the rescue mission, Kristen David of Wananavu Beach Resort, said the mayday call was heard at the resort's dive shop around 4pm on Saturday.
"The dive boat Nami and its crew captain, Jo Nawaqaliva, and dive shop manager, Jeremy David, left the resort immediately after hearing the emergency call and reached the yacht in about one and half hours," he said.
"The yacht was stuck on the reef which is at a popular dive site called E6.
"Jo and Jeremy were able to hook onto the yacht with a rope and pulled it off the reef. It was damaged but able to sail back to Nananu-i-Ra Island under its own power.
"They made sure all three passengers were safe and unharmed before returning to the resort."
Emergency services in Suva were contacted that same day at around 10am.