Navy divers have joined the operation to recover a body from the wreckage of FV Jubilee.

The fishing boat was found sunk off the Canterbury coast after sending out a distress signal in a brutal storm on October 18.

The boat's three crew - fishermen Jared Reese Husband, 47, of Timaru, Paul Russell Bennett, 35, of Motueka, and Terry Donald Booth, 55, of Nelson - are presumed dead.

Police yesterday said its divers and a remote-operated vehicle found a body inside the wreckage.

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Today, divers from the Royal New Zealand Navy's operational diving team (ODT) joined the recovery operation.

Sergeant Phil Simmonds said the navy divers, operating from the HMNZS Manawanui, completed their build-up dives yesterday.

"The diving support vessel HMNZS Manawanui left Akaroa for the wreck of the FV Jubilee this morning with 24 crew, nine ODT members and two members of the NZ police dive squad on board," he said.

"The intention is for members of the ODT to conduct a search inside the wreck, which is located at a depth of around 40m, and recover what is believed to be the body of a man seen during yesterday's underwater search."

Members from the Royal New Zealand Navy Operational Dive Team monitor divers in the water from the 'Dive Shack' on board the RNZN Diving Support Vessel. Photo / Rod Mackenzie
Members from the Royal New Zealand Navy Operational Dive Team monitor divers in the water from the 'Dive Shack' on board the RNZN Diving Support Vessel. Photo / Rod Mackenzie

Mr Simmonds said an update on today's search would not be made until tomorrow, due to the remote location of the dive site.

"Police are in close contact with the next of kin of the missing crew," he said.

"The focus of the recovery phase is, if possible, to locate and return the missing crew to their loved ones.

"This is an extremely distressing time for everyone involved and police and the Royal New Zealand Navy extend their thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and colleagues of the missing crew."

Police and Transport Accident Investigation Commission inquiries into the sinking are ongoing.