The 85-year-old schooner has disappeared with seven people on board

A historic American schooner has gone missing while sailing from New Zealand to Australia prompting ‘grave concerns’ for the crew.

The 70ft (21m) vessel called Nina left Opua in the Bay of Islands on 29 May and has not

been heard from since 4 June, when it was about 370 nautical

miles west-north-west of Cape Reinga.

There are seven people on board, six Americans (three men aged

17, 28 and 58, and three women aged 18, 60 and 73) and a British man

aged 35.

The vessel, which was built in 1928 and was en route for Newcastle, Australia, is equipped with satellite phone, a spot

device which allows regular tracking signals to be sent manually, and an

emergency beacon.

The emergency beacon has not been activated.

After concerns were raised by family and friends, the

Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) instigated a

communications search on 14 June, using a range of communications

methods to broadcast alerts to the vessel and others in the area.

No sign of Nina has been reported by any other vessel in the area since 4 June.

RCCNZ search and rescue mission coordinator Kevin Banaghan said a RNZAF P3 Orion had completed two extensive searches.

On 25 June, a search area of 160,000 square nautical

miles was covered, to the immediate north-north-east of New Zealand,

based on the vessel being disabled and drifting.

Yesterday, 26 June, a search was completed of 324,000

square nautical miles between northern New Zealand and the Australian

coast, based on the vessel suffering damage but continuing to make

progress towards Australia.

Mr

Banaghan said: ‘Unfortunately, no sign of the vessel has been found.

‘Our records show that conditions at the last known

position for the vessel, on 4 June, were very rough, with winds of

80kmh, gusting to 110kmh, and swells of up to 8m.

‘We do hold grave

concerns for the Nina and her crew but remain hopeful of a positive outcome.’

RCCNZ is liaising with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), and will continue to review search options.