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NEWS | Dec. 31, 2019

Coast Guard, good Samaritans Rescue Crew of Dismasted Sailing Vessel Southwest of Hawaii

By Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir U.S. Coast Guard District 14 Hawaii Pacific

HONOLULU, Hawaii -- The Coast Guard and good Samaritans aboard two commercial vessels located and rescued the crew of the 42-foot white dismasted sailing vessel Coco Haz III 656 miles west southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, Sunday.

"We appreciate the support of the good Samaritans aboard the commercial vessels Nobility and Kalamazoo who made this rescue possible," said Lt. Diane French, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. "This was a difficult case given the remote area of the search and a lack of communications with the crew. This case is a big win for the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, which the Kalamazoo subscribes to, the Safety NET message system, and the mariners out there willing to help each other."

The three crew are reportedly in good condition, with one possible concussion after further assessment by a flight surgeon, and en route to Honolulu aboard the motor vessel Kalamazoo. They are expected to arrive later in the week.

Crews aboard a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon airplanes conducted searches over several days. The Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) also responded from Honolulu, but shortly after reaching the search area, they turned back due to a low fuel state.

"We appreciate the support of the Navy Poseidon aircrews who were more than willing to fly and assist us during the holiday season," said French. "While the sailing vessel crew had supplies for the voyage they did not have and electronic position indicating radio beacon. Such a device would have provided their location rapidly and accurately, significantly shortening the search. We recommend anyone undertaking voyages offshore take an EPIRB."

Weather in the area was forecast from the National Weather Service as winds 17 to 28 mph and seas 6 to 10 feet.

Fast Facts:

- Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu watchstanders received notification the evening of Dec. 23 via a third party reporting source of an unreported sailing vessel transiting from Osaka, Japan, to Waikiki, Oahu, with three people aboard.

- The last known position of the boat at the time plotted approximately 805 statute miles northwest of Oahu.

- JRCC Honolulu watchstanders directed Sector Honolulu to make call outs and released a Safety NET message to all commercial traffic in the area.

- Watchstanders worked to make contact with the owner and eventually made contact with the assistance of the Japan coast guard to a liaison representing the sailing vessel owner. On Dec. 25, JRCC watchstanders held a conference call with the liaison for the vessel and the Japan coast guard.

- The vessel's liaison confirmed the Coco Haz III reportedly suffered a dismasting incident on Dec. 19, and the last communications between the crew and the owner of the boat in Japan were on Dec. 20.

- The liaison reported the crew had 500 gallons of fuel, two weeks of food, one month of water on board, and an orange life raft aboard as of Dec. 19.

- Reportedly, there are two U.S. nationals and one Japanese national on the sailing vessel crew.

- AMVER is a worldwide 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.

- The Nobility is a Liberian-flagged 480-foot container vessel en route to South Korea. The Kalamazoo is a Singapore-flagged 470-foot container ship en route Hawaii.

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