RCCNZ step up alert for sailing ship

5 December 2007

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has launched into an Alert Phase for an overdue sailing ship which was expected to reach New Zealand on1 December.

The 92 foot steel-hulled sailing ship, Alvei, left Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 13 November with nine people on board.  The crew/passengers are believed to be aged between 27 and 66 years of age and are made up of three Americans, four Australians, one Kiwi and one Englishman.

RCCNZ was first made aware of Alvei’s voyage on 29 November when contacted by a concerned relative of an Australian on board who was due to start a new job back in Australia.

RCCNZ immediately asked the Maritime Operations Centre to broadcast radio calls within New Zealand’s search and rescue region for information. There has been no response from Alvei or sightings reported. However, weather conditions have been moderate.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, Mike Roberts, said the sailing ship is now officially considered ‘overdue’. New Caledonian and Australian authorities are also investigating, he said.

Mr Roberts said an aircraft would begin searching along a route between Opua and Norfolk Island for any sighting of Alvei starting at midday.

Alvei is believed to be fitted with a VHF and HF Radio as well as a distress beacon.

“The vessel is not known to keep regular scheduled radio communications and there is enough cause for concern to begin a search to determine her status,” said Mr Roberts.

Mr Roberts said a Police Liaison Officer from Wellington is starting to contact family members.

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