Survivors from Nuku'alofa Ferry Rescue
Fifty-two survivors have been recovered following the sinking of the inter-island ferry Princess Ashika, near Nuku'alofa, Tonga, late on August 5. However, initial reports that the ferry was carrying 75 people have now been updated to 79 people, leaving 27 still unaccounted for. A Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) Orion is currently searching the area, with a second Orion scheduled to leave Whenuapai at 8.30am to relieve it. Its ETA is around midday today. Three vessels, including the Tongan Navy vessel, the Pangai, are also on scene assisting with the search. The Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) launched the rescue response after the Maritime Operations Centre (New Zealand Maritime Radio) picked up a mayday call from the Princess Ashika just before 11pm yesterday.
NZ Navy ROV IDs Sunken Princess Ashika
On August 18 the Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) operating from the Royal New Zealand Navy Diving Tender, HMNZS Manawanui, has allowed formal identification to be made of the sunken vessel resting on the seabed as the Princess Ashika. The ROV identified the vessel by allowing the Royal New Zealand Navy’s (RNZN) Diving and Underwater Search Team to read the ship's name plate. Conditions on the surface are not currently favorable but the Navy team is continuing with its efforts. The water clarity is reported to be very good and this has allowed the team to conduct a thorough search of the sunken vessel. One side of the Princess Ashika is obstructed and the ROV is unable to see into the passenger compartment. The vessel is sitting flat on the seabed and appears to be intact.