An HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing airplane from Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu was among the multi-national crews that searched for three Chuukese fishermen from the Federated States of Micronesia, who returned home safe Tuesday after missing at sea for a week in the Pacific.
The Sector Command Center Guam coordinated an extensive search, and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon airplane crew was eventually able to locate the three fishermen 85 nautical miles, or nearly 100 statute miles off Chuuk at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Guam time. The Poseidon crew dropped supplies to the fishermen, relayed their position to the Federated States of Micronesia Police and remained on scene until the FSS Palikir patrol boat recovered the fisherman less than three hours later.
The fishermen reportedly left Fefan Island at 9 a.m. on Feb. 13 in their 19-foot skiff with the intention of fishing outside of Chuuk Lagoon and returning the same day. When they did not return, their relatives searched for them, with no success. The search-and-rescue liaison for Chuuk officially requested U.S. Coast Guard assistance by contacting Sector Command Center Guam watchstanders on Feb. 15, two days later.
Sector Command Center Guam personnel issued a SafetyNet message, launched assets and pulled an Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System surface picture, which indicates the relative position of all AMVER-participating ships around a specific geographic point.
“AMVER is a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Chief Petty Officer Sean Soule, command duty officer, Sector Command Center Guam in a press release. “It is a computer-based global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea, This case is an excellent demonstration of the importance of our relationship with DOD and the maritime community who come together to leverage assets across a huge area of responsibility and bring people home to their loved ones.”
The fishermen, reportedly in good health, told responders they had engine issues while fishing and began to drift, preventing their return home on schedule.