Search suspended for missing fishing vessel

Monday 31 March 2014
AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) has suspended the search for a 75 metre fishing support vessel based on expert medical advice indicating that in the current weather conditions there is no prospect of survival.
Media Release

Early on Sunday 30 March, AMSA detected the emergency beacon signal in the Southern Indian Ocean near Antarctica about 3,200 km southwest of Perth and 648 km north of the Antarctic mainland in the Australian Search and Rescue Region.

AMSA was unable to contact the vessel and a broadcast to shipping was issued. The broadcast to shipping remains current, however the nearest vessel that AMSA is able to communicate with is over 1,800 kilometres away.

Yesterday, AMSA tasked a civil jet and a RAAF P3 Orion to locate the vessel.

The vessel was not located but debris was seen in the location of the beacon signal. There were no signs of a life raft or people in the water.

Based on this the RCC has concluded that either:

  • A considerable amount of deck equipment including the EPIRB has been swept overboard in rough weather and the vessel has continued passage but remains unable to be contacted and search aircraft were unable to locate it.
  • Or the vessel foundered and all crew entered the water at around the time the emergency beacon was detected.

Weather in the area over the past 24 hours has included sea swells of up to seven metres, winds of up to 70km/h, air temperature of -17oC and water temperatures between zero and two oC. The responding aircraft also reported icebergs in the area yesterday.

AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) has consulted with medical experts specialising in survivability. This expert medical advice indicated that even under the best circumstances, namely the crew abandoning ship into a dry life raft, there is no prospect of survival.

Due to discrepancies in the ships records AMSA has been unable to establish an owner, flag state, or what the vessel’s purpose was in this area. Indications are the vessel may have been involved in illegal fishing activities.

The search has been suspended.