THREE people have died and two have been rescued after a catamaran overturned in rough seas off the coast of Newcastle on Thursday morning.

About 10.10am Thursday an emergency beacon was activated from a 11.7m catamaran that had overturned about seven nautical miles off the coast at Stockton Beach.

Footage of a catamaran that capsized off Newcastle. Credit: Channel 7

Officers from Marine Area Command responded, together with Marine Rescue NSW and the RAAF, and coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.

Two people, a 14-year-old girl and a 45-year-old man, were winched from the water and taken to John Hunter Hospital.

Three bodies were found in the water and were retrieved by Marine Rescue.

A spokesperson for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the vessel’s distress beacon, which was properly registered, ensured AMSA was able to deploy rescue teams immediately to the scene.

“AMSA initially tasked the Westpac rescue helicopter from Belmont, which reached the scene at around 10.45 am to find the overturned vessel,” a spokesperson said.

“The helicopter located the two survivors and three deceased people near the vessel.”

AMSA also tasked a rescue helicopter from Williamtown, which remained on scene until Volunteer Marine Rescue vessels from Newcastle and Port Stephens arrived to recover the bodies.

The catamaran was on a voyage from Port Stephens to the Central Coast when it capsized.

“AMSA extends its condolences to the families of the deceased,” the spoksperson said. “AMSA would like to thank the rescue crews involved for their swift response, which saved two lives today.”