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NEWS | Jan. 9, 2024

Multi-agency rescue operation led by U.S. Coast Guard successfully saves 6 boaters near Guam

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

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, in partnership with Guam Fire Rescue and U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 (HSC-25), successfully conducted a search and rescue operation for a distressed vessel 30 miles northwest of Guam, on Jan. 6, 2023, saving six boaters.

"This successful rescue operation highlights the strength of our partnerships and our commitment to saving lives at sea. Working seamlessly with our partners at Guam Fire Rescue, U.S. Navy HSC-25, and other agencies, we ensured a swift and effective response despite the conditions, including scattered showers and 6-foot waves," said Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the search and rescue mission coordinator for the operation. "Our coordinated efforts demonstrate our collective resolve to uphold maritime safety and security."

The Joint Rescue Sub-Center, operated by U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders in Guam, received an urgent notification from Guam Fire Rescue about a 23-foot recreational vessel with six people aboard, initially identified as nationals of the People's Republic of China, experiencing severe difficulties. Reportedly, the vessel was taking on water, and all aboard were wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs).

Watchstanders immediately diverted the U.S. Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) crew to the location with an estimated time of arrival of 40 minutes. Simultaneously, they issued an urgent marine information broadcast (UMIB), and the U.S. Navy's HSC-25 was requested to join the rescue effort. The Navy squadron promptly accepted the mission, showcasing the strong partnership and interoperability between the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy units in the region.

The HSC-25 MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter crew located the vessel with all six people still aboard. Due to the critical condition of the vessel, which was taking on water in multiple locations, the rescue crew deemed it unsafe to tow. The 45-foot RB-M crew skillfully transferred all six survivors aboard their vessel, ensuring their safety and well-being. The vessel remains adrift, and anyone in the area should maintain a sharp lookout to avoid a collision.

The watchstanders notified personnel from agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs, and Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency. The RB-M crew transported the survivors to Hagåtña, where HSI officials met them at the pier for further care and assessment.

Weather conditions for the operation included east-northeast winds blowing at 13 to 16 knots, scattered showers, and wave heights of around six feet. No watches or warnings are in effect.

This incident serves as a reminder of the dangers mariners face and the importance of wearing life jackets and having reliable communication devices aboard the vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to stand ready, in partnership with local, federal, and military agencies, to respond to maritime emergencies and protect life at sea.

-USCG-

About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.

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