Coast Guard cutter crew rescues six from disabled vessel off Kaneohe, Oahu

HONOLULU – Coast Guardsmen aboard an 87-foot patrol boat rescued six fishermen from a disabled vessel approximately six miles north of Kaneohe’s Mokapu Point at 6 a.m. today

A spouse of one of the fishermen called the Coast Guard at 10:46 p.m. Wednesday night to report they were overdue from a day fishing trip off Oahu’s windward coast. The Coast Guard was able to talk briefly with the fishermen through a cell phone and determined a general location approximately six miles from shore.

The fishermen reported the cell phone was running low on battery life and that they had no personal flotation devices, flares or working radio aboard their vessel. Using GPS information provided by the cell phone company, the Coast Guard determined the general search area and coordinated with the Honolulu Fire Department on a search and rescue plan.

HFD diverted its Air One helicopter to the search area and the Coast Guard launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and crew from Air Station Barbers Point. The HH-65’s crew spotted the vessel at 12:29 a.m. and lowered a radio.

The Coast Guard established a communications plan with the fishermen and asked them to check in periodically. The crew of the 87-foot patrol boat Ahi began making its way toward the disabled vessel’s position at that time.

The Ahi was on scene at 5:49 a.m. today and placed the disabled vessel under tow. The Ahi safely returned the disabled vessel and the six fishermen to the state’s Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor boat ramp in Kaneohe at 9:11 a.m. today.

“We were fortunate to be able to reach them via cell phone,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Matt Couling, a search and rescue coordinator at the Coast Guard’s 24-hour Sand Island command center. “It’s important to remind mariners to have the proper safety gear on board and to leave a plan with friends or families because that makes our job as rescuers that much easier. This case could have turned out a lot worse.”

The U.S. Coast Guard invites mariners to visit the “safety” section of www.uscgboating.org for more information about the proper safety gear to have on board their recreational vessels.

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