LAST Friday [16 February] the Maersk-chartered container ship Northern Diamond, en route from Hong Kong to Melbourne via the Inner Route of the Great Barrier Reef, was tasked by Canberra’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre to assist with the rescue of two persons from the sailing vessel Andromeda.

The yacht was sinking at Eves Reef, 65 nautical miles north-west from Lizard Island, 100nm NNW from Cooktown. There were no vessels in the area to respond, except for Northern Diamond, and a RAAF C-27J Spartan transport aircraft that had been on normal passage in Coral Sea southbound when diverted to the northwest to check EPIRB transmission at Eves Reef.

Auriga Group pilot Captain Richard Jamieson navigated Northern Diamond as close as possible to Eves Reef and managed the communication with Reef VTS. Near the site of the sinking vessel two persons were sighted in lifejackets and were picked up by a lifeboat from Northern Diamond and transferred to the ship, fortunately without injury except for sunburn and mild dehydration.

The 3454 TEU Northern Diamond then resumed its southbound transit, with Capt Jamieson and the rescued sailors disembarked at Yorkey Knob near Cairns.

One day prior [14 February] AMSA assisted Indonesian search and rescue authorities in locating and rescuing 18 crew from a stricken ship about 460km north of Darwin on the northern edge of Australia’s Search and Rescue Region.

AMSA received a distress beacon signal from the vessel about 10.30am (AEDT), which had sunk, with crew taking refuge in two life rafts.  AMSA dispatched a nearby tanker, Hafnia Petrel, which successfully rescued the crew and informed Indonesian authorities of the incident. AMSA dispatched its Cairns-based Challenger aircraft to investigate the scene and support the rescue of the crew.

Indonesian authorities subsequently arranged for the collection of the crew from the Hafnia Petrel later that evening. AMSA thanked the crew of the tanker for their prompt and invaluable assistance, noting that the

coordination of the rescue highlighted the importance of regional cooperation between Australian maritime authorities and the Indonesian search and rescue agency BASARNAS.