A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Barbers Point that was on Wake Island responding to a car carrier ship fire from Monday was sent today to check on the 308-foot Chinese-flagged commercial fishing vessel Ou Ya Leng No. 6, which ran aground on Taka Atoll in the Marshall Islands after taking on water.
Initial reports from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China stated the 24 crew members from the Ou Ya Leng No. 6 abandoned ship and were on the atoll, the Coast Guard said.
But on arrival, the Hercules crew confirmed they are aboard the vessel and using emergency generator power, officials said. There are no reports of injuries or pollution.
Two fishing vessels are en route and expected to arrive Thursday to provide aid. The Republic of the Marshall Islands also dispatched patrol vessel Lomor to respond.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard today suspended the search for an unaccounted-for crewmember of the Panamanian-flagged car carrier Sincerity Ace, which burned at sea approximately 2,071 miles northwest of Oahu.
“This is always a difficult decision and takes many factors into account,” Chief Petty Officer Dennis Vetrano, with Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu, said in a release “We extend our condolences to the families and loved ones of the crewmembers affected by this tragedy.”
A “significant” fire was reported aboard the Sincerity Ace as it travelled from Japan to Hawaii.
Good Samaritans from four merchant vessels were able to rescue 16 of the 21 crew who abandoned ship, the Coast Guard said.
Four missing mariners were located but were unresponsive and remained in the water. Coast Guard watchstanders requested that vessels transiting the area be on the lookout for the remaining unaccounted-for crewmember. Searches were conducted throughout the day today.
Two Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrews were involved in the response. The planes carry life rafts and other survival gear that can be airdropped.
The Sincerity Ace’s managing company, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., will attempt to recover the four unresponsive crewmembers still in the water, the Coast Guard said.
At last report, the vessel was still on fire, uncrewed and listing to starboard. The cause of the fire and the disposition of the cargo remain unknown, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard said the Ou Ya Leng No. 6, a fishing ship targeting squid, was operating in Marshall Islands territorial seas.
Fisheries enforcement in exclusive economic zones has become a worldwide concern. The United States has the largest such zone in the world, comprising 2.25 million square miles. Joint U.S. Navy and Coast Guard teams enforce other exclusive economic zone fishing with “shipriders” from the Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia.
“This case (the commercial fishing vessel) is unfolding in a remote part of the Pacific with most surface vessels days away; thus the assistance of commercial vessels is extremely valuable to our effort coordinating help for this crew,” said Brendon Ritz, who is with the Honolulu joint rescue center.