Rescue Coordination Centre shortlisted for top award

Rescue Coordination Centre shortlisted for top award

One of the most treacherous New Zealand maritime rescues this year has earned our Rescue Coordination Centre a spot on the shortlist for a top international award.

The centre has been put up for the Team Award by The International Maritime Rescue Federation, for coordinating the rescue of the crew on board the yacht Platino.

Two people were killed when the Platino was battered by violent seas in June, hundreds of kilometres north of New Zealand.

Father of four Nick Saull was killed on deck while 64-year-old Steve Forno was washed overboard.

But thanks to the incredible rescue effort mounted by The Rescue Coordination Centre, three people survived.

John Dickinson, the senior Search and Rescue officer, said, "For them it must have been absolutely horrifying. They'd lost two of their close friends. They were in real danger themselves, so I certainly wouldn't want to be in their position."

Mr Dickinson was at the helm that day, conscripting container ship Southern Lily and two Air Force Orions to aid the stricken yacht.

It wasn't an easy rescue, but after 20 hours the Southern Lily was finally able to throw a lifeline, and it's for that feat that the team has been shortlisted for the top international honour.

"It's nice to be recognised; it's often you do go unnoticed for these things," Mr Dickinson said. "We occasionally get the odd cake, which is always wonderful, and the cards and the phone calls to say thank you very much. And that's wonderful to hear; it really is."

The Rescue Coordination Centre is used to slipping under the radar, but manager Mike Hill isn't bothered. His passion is keeping Kiwis safe.

"To rescue and save three people in terrible conditions is huge for us, and then, I guess, that added icing for us is to be nominated and recognised for the great work that the team here do day in, day out," he said.

Now the Wellington-based rescue team are sitting tight, waiting to find out if they get the recognition they deserve.

"I'm sure we will walk a little bit taller. We are already with the nomination. We'll see what happens if we win," Mr Hill added.

The award winners will be announced in Washington DC next week.