Ambrym lives could have been saved last Saturday, had the King Air aircraft been used in the search, says Senior Inspector Hickson Siba.
In an interview with Buzz FM 96, Inspector Hickson who is also in charge of the National Maritime Surveillance Centre said had the aircraft been used, the four victims could have been found earlier.
The King Air aircraft is contracted by the Forum Fisheries Agency [FFA] to be based in Vanuatu to monitor fishing vessels.
However, the aircraft is capable of carrying out search and rescue missions upon request.
Senior Inspector Hickson mentioned that the aircraft is equipped with the latest technology including infrared cameras and it can easily monitor all fishing activities within Vanuatu’s exclusive economic zone [EEZ] and as for search and rescue it could also be used in emergency situations including cyclones.
Despite being capable of search and rescue missions, the aircraft will not be able to be used for such roles until February 19 next year.
The plan is to keep the aircraft in Vanuatu to monitor the western Pacific and have the other one based in Samoa.
At the moment there are some minor issues regarding the aircraft such as registration in Vanuatu.
The plan is to keep the aircraft in Vanuatu under the agreement signed by the Forum Fisheries Agency members.
Ambrym Chief, Issac Worwor, voiced his concern saying that, had the search and rescue boats followed the tide after they spotted the empty canoe, they would have found the victims earlier.
He also mentioned that had the aircraft been deployed to the area, that would have also helped in finding them.
Reports from the Vanuatu Meteorology & Geohazards Department’s senior forecaster, Jerry Timothy, showed that there were strong wind warnings all week with east to south easterly wind gusts from 21- 25 knots and high swells of 2.5 to 3 meters which isn’t the ideal weather to go canoeing in.