Waves buffet the cruise ship MS Bremen about 100km south of
Campbell Island as a Southern Lakes helicopter flies
alongside, ready to assist, if need be, the Otago Regional
Rescue Helicopter, which is about to winch an injured crew
member off the ship. Photo from Otago Regional Rescue
A mission to rescue a seriously injured man from a cruise
ship south of Campbell Island is believed to be one of the
furthermost helicopter rescue operations undertaken in New
The 40-year-old Filipino crewman, whose right arm was crushed
in a self-closing watertight door on board MS Bremen on
Friday, was winched from the ship in 6m swells on to a rescue
helicopter, about 815km south of Invercargill on Sunday.
With favourable winds, the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter,
from Dunedin, and a Southern Lakes Helicopter, in Te Anau,
reached the ship about 2pm, after leaving Invercargill at
The helicopters returned to Invercargill about 8.45pm.
The 1900km-round trip was the farthest either helicopter had
flown on a rescue mission.
A Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesman said rescue
helicopters flew to Raoul Island, about 1000km northeast of
the North Island, to search for a missing Department of
Conservation worker, following a volcanic explosion, in March
It is believed the previous most distant rescue mission in
southern waters was when the Southern Lakes Helicopter flew
to the aid of man who was trapped in an auger on a fishing
boat about 550km southeast of Invercargill in September 2004.
In the latest mission, the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter,
piloted by Graeme Gale, with co-pilot Stu Farquhar and
paramedic Doug Flett on board, was partnered by Southern
Lakes' long-range Squirrel from Te Anau, piloted by Richard
Hayes, a pilot Mr Gale considered New Zealand's most
experienced in the Southern Ocean.
Winch operator Lloyd Mathieson, who accompanied Mr Hayes,
said the rescue went smoothly due to a "superb team effort".
The Southern Lakes crew had made the journey to Campbell
Island many times and were very familiar with the area and
conditions in the subantarctic, he said.
Mr Gale said such long-range operations were now possible
because of the technology available to pilots, including
range extender fuel tanks and night vision equipment.