A joint effort by the Headquarters Northern Command and Navy mine hunter HMAS Huon has lead to the recovery of a merchant vessel's high speed rescue craft, which was adrift in the Timor Sea for more than six days.
The grateful owner, oil rig tender MV Far Grip lost the craft on Monday 2 September during exercises in the area of Evans Shoal, approximately 137 nautical miles north of Cape Bougainville.
The captain of the tender's sister ship MV Far Sky, a former Australian customs officer, telephoned the Headquarters Northern Command in Darwin requesting assistance in locating the unmanned craft.
A Customs and Border Protection Dash 8 aircraft located the bright orange, 6 metre vessel several times during the week although the MV Far Grip was unable to recover the craft.
The craft was found by HMAS Huon (Mine Hunter Coastal Crew Two) just south of the Joint Petroleum Development Area at approximately 3:00pm on Saturday. Huon's Phase Three Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Brenton Palmer led a small team to board the craft.
“We could see fairly quickly that we couldn't hoist the craft onto Huon's boat deck,” SBLT Palmer said.
“Instead, our Marine Technician, Leading Seaman Jamie Pottie got the craft's engines running while staff at Northern Command in Darwin used the craft's IMO number to contact the owners.”
The MV Far Grip had already returned to Darwin port so arrangements were made for another sister ship, the MV Lady Malindas, which was only several hours away, to rendezvous with Huon and crane the craft to safety.
“It was a fun evolution,” said SBLT Palmer.
“I got to have my first ‘drive’ as we trailed Huon in the rescue craft to the rendezvous point with the MV Lady Malindas.
“It was a good feeling to have cleared the area of a significant navigational hazard.
“Not to mention, I'm sure the crew of the MV Far Grip were grateful to have their rescue craft back!”