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USS Makin Island Conducts Search for Chinese Mariner

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Dennis Grube | USS Makin Island (LHD 8)Public Affairs | Oct. 31, 2016

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Sailors and embarked "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, and assets from the U.S. Coast Guard attempted to locate Chinese mariner Guo Chuan during a search and rescue (SAR) operation in the waters off Hawaii, Oct. 26.

Although the team located Chuan's vessel, Qingdao China, no signs of life were found aboard.

"Despite the team's best efforts all the way around, this is an
unfortunate outcome," said Navy Capt. Mark Melson, commanding
officer of Makin Island, and on-scene commander for the search and rescue mission. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Guo Chuan."

Chuan was attempting a new world record for a solo trans-Pacific voyage from San Francisco to Shanghai in a 97-foot super trimaran.

Chuan had not reported to his ground support team in 24 hours when the U.S. Coast Guard was notified.

After receiving the order to conduct the search and rescue operation from U.S. 3rd Fleet Oct. 25, Makin Island advanced at best speed to the vessel's last known location.

Melson said rendering assistance to vessels and Sailors in distress is the responsibility of all professional mariners.

"Having the capability to assist with missions like this is important," said Melson. "The open sea is unforgiving, and we all have to look out for one another in this environment."

Once within range of the vessel early Oct. 26, Makin Island launched a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter with a SAR swimmer and personnel from Fleet Surgical Team 5 aboard. The helicopter lowered the SAR swimmer, who was unable to board the vessel due to unsafe conditions created by a heavy sea state.

Makin Island advanced to within 700 yards from the vessel and launched a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), from which Sailors boarded the vessel. Chuan was not on the trimaran, life preservers were still on board, and the jib sail was dragging in the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search for Guo Chuan late Oct. 26.

"We recognize his tremendous achievements, innovative spirit, and boundless courage," said Melson.

Makin Island, the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is on a scheduled deployment with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of security and stability in the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the Makin Island, the command ship for Amphibious Squadron 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, as well as amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25), on its maiden deployment, and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45).
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