10 mariners still missing after two-week search in Midway

Posted on Jan 14 2021

An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew search for the crew of the fishing vessel Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18, 550-miles northeast of Midway Island. The crew of the fishing vessel are believed to be onboard a life raft, promoting a search that had been ongoing since Dec. 31, 2020. (U.S. COAST GUARD)

HONOLULU—The search for 10 missing mariners who are presumed to be on a life raft that is adrift 550 miles northeast of Midway Island entered its 14th day yesterday, with still no signs of the missing crew.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard statement yesterday, it said the U.S. Navy, good Samaritans, and the Coast Guard are coordinating the search with Rescue Coordination Center Taipei for the 10 crewmembers of the Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18.

Good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessel Lian-Horng No. 67 placed an automatic tracking system beacon aboard the Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18, but were unable to board due to heavy seas.

“We continue to work closely with our partners during the search efforts and to date have consecutively completed 29 search sorties lasting 73 hours in total and covering more than 40,000 square nautical miles,” said Cmdr. Scott Higbee, a Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu search and rescue mission coordinator. “We will continue to coordinate closely and look into all search options while we move forward.”

The partners have been searching for the crew since Dec. 31, 2020, after Rescue Coordination Center Taipei lost contact with the vessel. An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 aircrew located the adrift Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18 on Jan. 1, with a missing life raft and no signs of the 10 crewmembers.

Following the discovery of the vessel, JRCC Honolulu watchstanders coordinated with both the Navy and good Samaritans aboard four Taiwan fishing vessels and three Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System merchant vessels to continuously search the area over the following days.

Both Air Station Barbers Point and Navy aircrews have performed continuous daily air sorties of the area while the merchant and fishing vessel crews have conducted surface searches.

“One of the largest challenges with regards to this case besides the vast distances involved has been the weather,” said Higbee. “High seas, strong winds, and low visibility have been a constant obstacle that has prevented crews from boarding the Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18.”

The reported weather on scene has been winds regularly greater than 20 mph and seas of 11 to 25 feet.

Despite the seas, both the Lian-Horng No. 67 and the AMVER vessel M/V Horizon Spirit circled within 200 feet of the vessel this weekend.  They searched for signs of any crewmen that may have remained aboard, gathered imagery to help ascertain the cause of the incident, and dropped the automatic tracking system beacon on the vessel.  The automatic tracking system beacon will allow watchstanders to continuously track the vessel as the search continues.

AMVER is a world-wide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. 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. Today, over 22,000 ships from hundreds of nations participate in AMVER.

Involved in the search to date: Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point C-130 Hercules aircrews; a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130J Hercules aircrew; four Taiwan fishing vessels; Navy P-8 Poseidon aircrews; crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Oocl Tokyo; crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Nicon Future; crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Horizon Spirit; and crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Zim New York. (PR)

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