AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) said it has suspended the search for a 75-meter fishing support vessel after consulting expert medical advice indicating that in the current weather conditions there is no prospect of survival.
An emergency beacon signal was detected by AMSA early on Sunday, March 30, in the Southern Indian Ocean near Antarctica about 3,200 km southwest of Perth and 648 km north of the Antarctic mainland in the Australian Search and Rescue Region.
AMSA was unable to contact the vessel, and a broadcast to shipping was issued. The broadcast to shipping remains current, AMSA said, but the nearest vessel in communication with is more than 1,800 kilometers away.
Yesterday, AMSA tasked a civil jet and a RAAF P3 Orion to locate the vessel. The vessel was not located but debris was seen in the location of the beacon signal. There were no signs of a life raft or people in the water.
Based on this the RCC has concluded that either a considerable amount of deck equipment including the EPIRB has been swept overboard in rough weather and the vessel has continued passage but remains unable to be contacted and search aircraft were unable to locate it, or the vessel foundered and all crew entered the water at around the time the emergency beacon was detected.
Weather in the area over the past 24 hours has included sea swells of up to seven meters, winds of up to 70km/h, air temperature of -17 oC and water temperatures between zero and two oC. The responding aircraft also reported icebergs in the area yesterday.
AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) has consulted with medical experts specializing in survivability. This expert medical advice indicated that even under the best circumstances, namely the crew abandoning ship into a dry life raft, there is no prospect of survival.
Due to discrepancies in the ships records AMSA has been unable to establish an owner, flag state, or what the vessel’s purpose was in this area. Indications are the vessel may have been involved in illegal fishing activities.
The search has been suspended.