Multi-Agency Rescue Off Awhitu



Awhitu Rural Fire Force, Waiuku and Papakura Coastguard, Eagle Police Helicopter, Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Coastguard Search Aircraft and St John all joined forces in the search and rescue of three fishermen, after their 6.5m boat overturned crossing the Manuaku Bar on Tuesday last week.

Waiuku Coastguard received an urgent call out after a 6.5m powerboat with a crew of three on board was overdue crossing the Manukau Bar.
The crew on NZ Steel Rescue headed straight to Little Huia Boat Ramp to check if the vessel owners car and trailer were still there – they were.
NZ Steel Rescue then headed for the South channel of the Manukau Bar.
The Police tasked Coastguard to begin a search for the missing boat, which saw vessels from both Waiuku and Papakura respond, as well as Coastguard’s Search Aircraft. The Police Eagle Helicopter also joined in the search.
The condition of the Bar was extremely rough according to one of Coastguard’s members. He explained that they had a small window of opportunity to get through, which made the search near on impossible to do safely.
They carried out a search down at Hamilton’s Gap, then back inside the bar and at this point, both the Police Eagle helicopter and Coastguard’s Air Patrol were still searching the area. Air Patrol was the first to find the up turned vessel just off Irwin’s Gap. Both Waiuku and Papakura Rescue 1 headed back out through the Bar but were unable to get to the stricken vessel as it was in the surf line.
While this was all taking place on the water and in the air, on land Awhitu Rural Fire Force’s Senior Station Officer, David Millar, and Senior Firefighter, J Allen, responded to an urgent call from a local resident off Irwin Road.
A man had arrived at their house, claiming he swum ashore after his boat capsized. He needed help for his two friends, one of which he believed was still in the water.
SSO Millar and SFF Allen mobilised immediately, however, soon realised that there was no way their First Response vehicle 5933 would make it to beach.
Millar and Allen armed with a medical kit , arranged for two bikes to use for the 3km path down to the beach. They found one of the fishermen lying on the rocks with a serious head wound and a broken pelvis. After bandaging up the head wound and administering oxygen, they awaited Westpac and Police who landed on the beach to transport the fishermen to safety.

This incident shows how a multi- agency response worked together to produce a fantastic result.
All three fisherman made it back to their families, which highlights how important that Bar crossing call was to ensure that Coastguard knew this vessel was on the bar, therefore sending assets to start a search when the crossing was not closed.
“The skipper has done all the right things, with everyone on board wearing a lifejacket and logging a Bar Crossing Report before with Coastguard Radio before heading over the bar.”
“This safety and information service provided free of charge by Coastguard saves lives, and significantly reduces the response time of search and rescue services,” says Mr Burge.

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