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NEWS | Jan. 11, 2023

Poor Offshore Weather Prompts Responders to Assist Boaters Off Agat, Guam

By Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia / Sector Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam -- Three boaters whose vessel was taking on water off Agat on Jan. 4 are safe thanks to the actions of emergency responders on Guam.

A U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew located the 22-foot vessel Machalek about 15 miles off Agat and escorted the boaters to Agat Marina. Due to weather, they were taking on water; strong winds brought 8 to 10-foot waves.

“We appreciate the support of our partners to work together to ensure the safety of these boaters,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jon Pangelinan, operations petty officer at Station Apra Harbor. “It’s important to pay attention to the weather. Regular updates are on the websites and social media accounts of the National Weather Service here in Guam, Guam Fire, and the Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense pages.”

Response action came after U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-Center watchstanders received notification from Guam Fire Department the recreational vessel was reportedly taking on water as they were returning from a fishing trip at Galvez Banks. The boaters lacked a marine-band VHF radio and had intermittent cellular service.

Watchstanders took immediate action to direct the Station Apra Harbor RB-M launch and requested additional support from U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25. HSC-25 accepted the mission launched an MH-60 Knighthawk helicopter crew, and prepared to launch a second Knighthawk. Guam Fire Dispatch also directed one of their vessels to respond. The watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast requesting the assistance of any mariners in the area.

Within 30 minutes, the Station Apra Harbor RB-M crew was alongside the foundering vessel. Watchstanders canceled the UMIB and notified HSC-25 they could stand down. About an hour later, the boaters arrived safely at Agat Marina. The Station Apra Harbor crew conducted a post-search and rescue boarding and found the boaters had all the required equipment aboard.

“Our Guam Fire Department partners rescued two distressed water sports enthusiasts in Hagåtña Bay outside the reef line Saturday. A third person made it back to shore on their own. There were no injuries, but they were fortunate,” said Chief Warrant Officer Sara Muir, public affairs officer CGFM/SG. “Winter storms in the region frequently create hazardous water conditions, so it’s important to be aware and always respect the water here, especially if you are an inexperienced swimmer.”

The U.S. Coast Guard and local responders always recommend carrying multiple forms of communication aboard a vessel, as cellular communication can be unreliable depending on location and distance offshore. These may include a cellular phone, VHF-FM radio, a satellite phone, or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Personal Locator Beacon. Anyone going out on the water should also leave word with friends and family on where they are going and when they expect to return.

Weather is also an essential factor to consider. A rip current statement and high surf advisory are in effect through Sunday evening for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in addition to a small craft advisory for Saipan and Tinian. The National Weather Service team in Tiyan provides regular weather updates on their website https://www.weather.gov/gum/ and Twitter account @NWSGuam.

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