U.S. Air Force Finds Missing Fishermen Off Remote Pacific Island

USCG aircrew deploys survival supplies to the missing fishermen (USCG)

Published Mar 14, 2021 4:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, thanks to an extensive U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard search effort, a good samaritan ship rescued five stranded fishermen off remote Houk Island in the South Pacific. 

At about 1915 hours on Thursday, the Coast Guard's rescue coordination center in Guam received a report that a fishing skiff with five men on board was overdue and missing. The watchstanders called in an HC-130 Hercules SAR aircraft from Hawaii - 3,500 miles to the east - to join in a search. The cutter Myrtle Hazard also diverted to the area, and the Coast Guard began contacting nearby merchant vessels to request help in the SAR effort. 

At 1515 hours on Friday, an Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker air crew based out of Guam located the skiff at a position about 50 miles to the southwest of Pulusuk Atoll (Houk). The Coast Guard HC-130 rendezvoused with the Air Force crew and dropped emergency supplies to the survivors, including food, water and handheld radios. 

The Hoegh Brasilia, an AMVER-participating car carrier, arrived shortly afterwards and recovered all of the fishermen, with proper COVID protocols. The Brasilia headed back to Houk, and the cutter Myrtle Hazard escorrted the skiff back to the island the following morning. 

“Through coordination with multiple response agencies, we were able to save five members of our community and bring them back home to their families,” said Cmdr. Kristen Hahn, search and rescue mission coordinator for Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu . “The mariners having a float plan and communicating that plan with their family directly contributed to their rescue.”