Coast Guard continues search for passenger of unmanned vessel

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard continues its search for a passenger missing from an unmanned sailboat approximately 70 miles northwest of Point Conception.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Los Angeles and the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, a 418-foot Homeland Security Cutter homeported in Alameda, are searching the area for the missing person.

Coast Guard Station Channel Islands received a call yesterday at 10:30 a.m. from the cruise ship Stantondam concerning a damaged and unmanned 22-foot sailboat. The reported location of the sailing vessel was in the vicinity of an uncorrelated “Mayday” call received by the Coast Guard at approximately 6:55 p.m. Wednesday evening.

After receiving the “Mayday” call Wednesday evening, an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Sacramento was launched and searched the area until midnight with negative results before returning to base. Early Thursday morning, another Hercules was launched and conducted a “first light” search but, again, was unable to locate the vessel.

After receiving the report from the cruise ship, the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda again launched a Hercules, which located the sailing vessel at around 2:40 p.m yesterday. The Hercules however, was unable to locate anyone on the vessel or in the water. At approximately 6:15 p.m., a Dolphin from Air Station Los Angeles arrived on scene and lowered a rescue swimmer onto the vessel, who was able to confirm that no individual was on board.

After the cutter Bertholf and the helicopter complete their missions, the Coast Guard will have searched more than 8,100 square miles. Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento has conducted three search patterns with the Hercules aircraft, while Air Station Los Angeles will have completed two search patterns with a Dolphin helicopter.

It was previously reported that the 22-foot sailboat was named Black Sheep; however, after further investigation on the registration numbers and speaking with family members, it is determined that the vessel is unnamed.

The vessel reportedly left Monterey Bay Tuesday, May 11. The sailboat is white, with a light blue deck and is single masted. The sails were up but were torn.

Today’s weather conditions in the search area are 4-foot seas with winds at 25 knots. Visibility is reported to be 7 miles.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to be prepared for possible emergencies by:

  • Having an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon on board with 406 MHz capabilities.
  • Register your EPIRB with NOAA according to the instructions provided with the beacon. Registration is mandatory, improves response, reduces false alarms, and can be completed online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov.
  • Ensure that your vessel is seaworthy. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary for a free vessel safety inspection. Go to http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/ for more information.
  • File a float plan with a friend.

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