28 Feb 2011

Captain describes intense storm struck during rescue bid

9:31 pm on 28 February 2011

The navy's newest warship has survived what its captain calls the most intense storm he has ever encountered as it went to the rescue of a Norwegian yacht that has now vanished.

Three men are presumed dead after the yacht Beserk entered Antarctic waters without authorisation to drop two expedition members on the ice for a quad-bike attempt to reach the South Pole.

HMNZS Wellington tried to answer a mayday call from the yacht.

Its captain, Lieutenant Commander Simon Griffith, said the ship was 30 nautical miles away, but it was impossible to reach the yacht quickly.

The leader of the quad bike mission, Jarle Andhoy, says he has no regrets, despite three of his support crew being presumed dead after their yacht vanished in a storm.

Norwegians Jarle Andhoy, 33, and Samuel Massie, 18, abandoned their pole quest after finding out the yacht was missing.

The pair have been criticised for being insufficiently prepared and for not telling authorities of their plans.

Mr Andhoy says he is thankful for New Zealand's search efforts, but has no regrets, adding that he thought he had completed all the necessary requirements, and says he hopes to return to Antarctica one day.

He and his companion are due to meet officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Maritime Safety Authority on Tuesday.