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Image Gallery: August 2009

11 August 2009
Tongan Ferry 'Princess Ashika' search and support mission

Australian Navy clearance divers have sharpened their skills as their mates continue the search for sunken ferry ‘Princess Ashika’.

The divers from Australian Clearance Diving Team One conducted drills at His Majesty’s Navy Base Masefield (Touliki).

The drills are an essential safety measure in the ongoing search operations.

Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Simon Scott was one of the first in the water during the initial reconnaissance to find the ferry.

“On the way out I was thinking of what I was about to come across … I have done searches like this before,” LSCD Scott said.

“I did a job out at Sydney on a Japanese midget submarine.”

The 16 divers from AUSCDT ONE and their Anzac cousins from New Zealand’s Operational Dive Team, had arrived on Tongan soil by the morning of Saturday 8 August in response to a Tongan Government request to their respective governments.

While LSCD Scott and his team mates donned their dive gear, a joint mission from both teams aboard the Tongan patrol boat VOEA Pangai continued their search for the ferry.

“We really want to find the vessel, it’s our job to be here,” LSCD Scott said.

“We are happy to be here to assist the Tongan Government and their families.”

The Princess Ashika sank on Wednesday 5 August.

Tongan Police Force figures indicate that of 149 people believed to be onboard the Princess Ashika, 54 survivors and two bodies have been recovered. Ninety three people are still unaccounted for.

The Royal New Zealand Navy deployed a REMUS (Remote Environment Measuring Underwater System), a torpedo-like unit which can gather imagery at depths beyond the deployed capabilities of the ANZAC divers. REMUS allowed the divers to scour their search area for signs of the ferry.