THE CREW of containership Moana Chief was recognised at the 2023 New Zealand Search and Rescue Awards (held on 21 May 2024) for their efforts in a yacht rescue last year.

The New Zealand-flagged ship, operating under Pacifica Shipping assisted the yacht Astra and its solo skipper when the yacht dismasted about 65 miles south of Napier in March 2023.

Moana Chief was on passage to Auckland, having left the Port of Lyttelton. Weather conditions at the time were severe, with poor visibility and southerly winds between 35 to 40 knots.

The ship received a mayday relay radio call and was contacted by Maritime Radio (Napier), the then-captain of Moana Chief, Captain Nitin Tyagi, diverted from the ship’s original route to provide assistance alongside fishing vessel Amaltal Apollo and the helicopter Hercules.

At the NZSAR awards ceremony on Tuesday this week, Swire Shipping country manager – New Zealand Alistair Skingley and Swire/Pacifica senior master Graeme Bird represented Pacifica and the crew of Moana Chief to receive a certificate of achievement.

“I’m incredibly proud of the entire crew aboard MV Moana Chief during this rescue,” Alistair Skingley said.

“Their swift action and decisive response during the rescue of Astra is testament to their dedication and commitment to safety, a core value and top priority at Swire Shipping.

“Their ability to react quickly and effectively in a challenging situation is truly inspiring and embodies the values we instil in all our crew.”

Also at the awards, the NZSAR Gold Award for Operational Activity was presented to Hawke’s Bay SLSNZ SAR Squad, for the rescue of over 200 people from Esk Valley and Pakowhai during Cyclone Gabrielle on 14 February 2023.

The Gold Award for Support Activity was presented to Senior Constable Conrad Smith, for his service and commitment to search and rescue and the Ruapehu Emergency Services Charitable Trust.

Five Certificates of Achievement for Operational Activity, and Five Certificates of Achievement for Support Activity were also presented to worthy recipients during the ceremony.