MORRO BAY, Calif – An Air Force HH-60 Helicopter from Moffett Field, Calif. successfully relocated and boarded the fishing boat Wild Thing at 5:15 p.m. today, approximately 250 miles east of Santa Barbara while a Coast Guard C-130 airplane from Sacramento flew overhead. There was no sign of the boat’s captain, Joe Jones on board.
The Coast Guard initially located the fishing boat approximately 160 nautical miles west-southwest of Point Conception, Calif. yesterday after a friend of Jones reported him overdue at about 5 p.m. on Friday. Jones had departed on his 30-foot fishing boat around 6 a.m. on Thursday. He was due back to Morro Bay that day at 10 a.m.
Coast Guard rescuers first searched the area where Jones was supposed to be fishing, about 20 nautical miles off California’s central coast, and then expanded their search area. Coast Guard rescue helicopters from Los Angeles and San Diego, the Coast Guard C-130, and a rescue boat from Morro Bay have been conducting the searches. About 900 square miles of ocean was searched in the area.
The Coast Guard was able to locate the boat Saturday morning using information from a Vessel Monitoring System on board the vessel. Commercial fishing vessels are equipped with VMS by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to ensure compliance with federal fisheries laws and regulations. The system tracks commercial fishing vessels by transmitting its GPS location to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which then records the boats path.
The Coast Guard C-130 is currently searching from the boats current location back to Morro Bay.