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Search and Rescue


New Zealand's region of maritime search and rescue responsibility is very, very large. Obviously much of it lies outside helicopter range. Helpfully much of it is also rarely sailed. 

The defence force helps with maritime SAR with the P3K Orions and sometimes the OPVs. However the ability to scan a lot of water to a resolution of about a metre is not an easy task. Some low earth orbit satellites can manage it if the target is metallic or brightly coloured but partly submerged yachts are not going to be easy at any time.

The New Zealand Search and Rescue framework is described in this PDF document.

For operations in the South during winter we are not well equipped at all. None of our navy vessels have icebreaking ability so there is no scope for SAR around the Ross Sea and Southern Ocean in winter.

To a certain extent long distance SAR isn't worth investing in for it's own sake. But where a capability ties in with something else, like EEZ patrol, it makes sense.
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