Search suspended for mariner missing in Rota-Guam waters
SANTA RITA, Guam—The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the active search for the third mariner from the 42-foot vessel Senor Dung at sunset on Feb. 12. The third mariner, 49-years-old, remains missing.
“Suspending search efforts without locating everyone in a case is never easy, and our condolences go out to the family and friends of the third mariner,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “We are fortunate to have such strong local relationships [that] contributed to the rescue of two of three mariners. We are also extremely grateful again to our local and military partners who’ve come together a second time in less than a week to search for those missing at sea. We thank the U.S. Pacific Air Forces hosting exercise Cope North for diverting those assets and crews to assist.”
The combined team conducted more than 26 search patterns over more than 96 hours, saturating an area of more than 7,566 square nautical miles.
Responders involved to date include crews from:
• Guam Fire Department
• Rota Department of Public Safety
• U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two-Five
• Guam Army National Guard
• U.S. Air Force
• U.S. Marine Corps
• Royal Australian Air Force
• French Air and Space Force – Forces armées en Asie-Pacifique et en Polynésie française
• USCGC Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139)
• U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor
• U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
• U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-center
“As with our previous case, aviation support is critical when in these situations due to the size of the area we need to search. Un danguklo na si yu’us ma’ase to the Guam Army National Guard helicopter crew who located the debris field and vectored in the Myrtle Hazard crew locating the two mariners we rescued,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christine Igisomar, one of the search and rescue mission coordinators on the case.
At 7:30pm on Feb. 8, watchstanders at the FM/SG JSRC received a mayday call over VHF-FM Channel reporting the vessel Senior Dong taking on water between Rota and Guam. The master stated there were three people aboard the sinking vessel, and communications were lost while gathering information from the master. Guam Fire Department confirmed seeing the vessel depart Hagåtña Marina earlier in the day.
Watchstanders immediately diverted the Myrtle Hazard from patrol northwest of the scene and directed the launch of a Station Apra Harbor 45-foot Response Boat-Medium rescue boat crew. They requested assistance from Guam Fire Department rescue boat crews and HSC-25 using their MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter. Searches the following day included efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard, Guam Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter crew, HC-130s attached to the U.S. Air Force 36th Airlift Squadron, and the HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point. The Lakota crew’s efforts led directly to the rescue of the two survivors.
The U.S. Department of Defense and multinational aircraft crews currently in Guam are participating in Pacific Air Forces’ Cope North 2023; a multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces-sponsored field training exercise focused on trilateral airborne integration for large-force employment, agile combat employment, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training. The exercise runs from Feb. 8 to 24. HSC-25, also participating in Cope North, and the Guam National Guard are permanently stationed in Guam.
While the active search is suspended, anyone with further information or possible sightings in the coming days should contact the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-Center at +1 671-355-4824.
Weather on scene was challenging with winds up to 25 knots, wind waves of as high as 6 feet, and swells up to 9 feet, but it improved throughout the weekend. A small craft advisory and a rip current statement were in effect for much of the search. (USCG)