THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority assisted in saving the lives of 13 who had been missing for more than a week in the Solomon Sea.

A 10-metre-long vessel was reported to have broken down on 22 January in the vicinity of Alcester Island, 585 kilometres east of Port Moresby, with 13 on board.

AMSA said the vessel was believed to be transiting in the area between islands when it broke down.

The Papua New Guinea search and rescue authorities requested AMSA’s help on 27 January to issue a broadcast to shipping for the missing boat.

On Friday, 29 of January, AMSA deployed its Cairns-based Challenger jet to conduct a search for the vessel, focusing on an area of about 5926 square kilometres.

While conducting the search, the AMSA Challenger jet notified ships in the search area of the missing vessel. One of those ships, the bulk carrier Ken Hope was able to locate the missing vessel and rescue the 13 people.

All survivors were reported to be in good health.

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AMSA Response Centre duty manager Stephen Hart said the rescue was an instance of AMSA’s search and rescue staff located in Canberra saving lives.

“Our people make an incredible difference, what they do is very often the difference between life and death for mariners who find themselves in distress,” Mr Hart said.

“In this instance, our Challenger jet was able to speak to the ships in the search area directly, which resulted in the Ken Hope locating the thirteen missing persons.

“As Australia’s search and rescue region totals about ten percent of the earth’s surface, our team is kept very busy. However, being able to help our neighbours like Papua New Guinea is incredibly rewarding. It also builds co-operation and capability across the broader pacific search and rescue region.”

Upon rescuing the missing persons, Ken Hope diverted to Misima Island, roughly 66 nautical miles south of Alcester Island, to land the survivors.

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