27 Jun 2013

Fears held for missing schooner

6:14 pm on 27 June 2013

Maritime New Zealand holds grave concerns for the crew of a schooner missing en route to Australia from the Bay of Islands.

Six Americans and one Briton are on the 85-year-old vessel Nina, which has not been heard from since 4 June.

Kevin Banaghan from the Rescue Co-ordination Centre said conditions at sea were atrocious with eight-metre swells and 60-knot wind gusts when the crew last made contact.

Mr Banaghan said on Thursday that an Air Force Orion had searched about 500,000 square nautical miles for the 21-metre schooner over the past two days.

The best case scenario is that the vessel's radio has been damaged and it has motored out of the search zone to safety.