Story: Search and rescue

Rescuing the crew of the Wiltshire

Rescuing the crew of the Wiltshire

On 31 May 1922 the steamer Wiltshire, en route from England to New Zealand with 103 crew on board, ran aground on Great Barrier Island. A radio distress call was received in Auckland, and vessels from the Union Steamship Company, Auckland Harbour Board and the navy went to the rescue. The Wiltshire had broken in two, and the crew were crowded into the hull, which was in danger of sinking. Because of the wild seas, it was impossible for boats to reach them. In the days before helicopters, the only feasible method of rescue was to set up a line between the ship and the shore. Eventually a rope from the Wiltshire was floated ashore, secured, and the crew were laboriously winched to dry land. The rescue was completed without loss of life, but not until two full days after the vessel had struck.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Search and rescue - Rescue equipment and techniques', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 September 2022)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 24 Sep 2007