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Safe return of three Tuvaluan fishermen

Matilda Simmons
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

A CO-ORDINATED effort between the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre (FMSRCC) and the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) saw the safe return of three Tuvaluan fishermen who found themselves drifting off their island in Tuvalu.

According to the chief of Navy and Search and Rescue Mission co-ordinator, Humphrey Tawake, the centre was informed by the RCCNZ at around 11 in the morning on Saturday, March 3 about the distress signal which came from the Tuvalu Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) south of Nuilakita Island.

This was communicated to the Tuvalu Maritime Police Division on which they conducted their initial investigation to verify the distress location. The Tuvalu authorities broadcast this information to nearby islands and vessels of the distress, said Mr Tawake.

Upon the request of the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coordination Centre, the Royal New Zealand Air force soon joined the search. An Orion aircraft was deployed from New Zealand on Monday afternoon to help.

"The centre was informed on Sunday, March 4, that Tuvalu authorities received further information on the distress and that three fishermen from Nuilakita were confirmed to have had engine problems to their fishing boat and were drifting at sea. The Tuvalu Police dispatched a Tuvalu fisheries vessel FV Talamoana to the location of the distress," said Mr Tawake.

"At 5.39pm the centre received information from Tuvalu Maritime Police that FV Talamoana had sighted the distress vessel and was making it's way to their location. At 6.02pm the RCCNZ confirmed that they had sighted the FV Talamoana receiving the three fishermen from the distress vessel. The three fishermen were safely transported to Funafuti by FV Talamoana ."

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