The Royal New Zealand Navy REMUS sonar system has detected a vessel which fits the general size and shape of the missing vessel Princess Ashika.
The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) Diving and Underwater Search Team, in a combined operation with teams from the Tonga Defence Force and Royal Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team, operating from the Tongan Defence Services Vessel Voea Pangai, located what appears to be the sunken vessel Princess Ashika.
The vessel was located 11 nautical miles south southwest of Nomuka in the Ha'apai Group of islands and appears to be intact and in an upright position. The position identified by the REMUS system coincides with the positions given by both the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and by the Master in his final radio call.
The Royal New Zealand Navy Diving Tender, HMNZS Manawanui is due to arrive in Nuku'alofa on Saturday morning which will allow the Navy Diving Team to conduct further reconnaissance operations on the Princess Ashika using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
The ROV will be used to conduct an examination, explore the wreck site, map the debris area and allow the diving teams to examine what further options are available. The ROV will provide images that will give 100% certainty to the identity of the sunken vessel.
The RNZN Divers do not have the capability to conduct recovery operations below 50 metres.