Coast Guard rescue crew flies to Midway Island to find round-the-world sailors

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Air Station Kodiak flew to Midway Island in search of a sailing vessel whose emergency locator beacon was activated after its mast broke and a crewmember suffered head injuries in heavy weather during the Clipper Round the World race Sunday.

The Hercules crew located the 66-foot British-flagged sailing vessel California and its 42 person race team including several Americans more than 800 miles northeast of Midway Island.

The rescue crew arrived at 7 p.m. ADT and successfully dropped a radio to the crew and established communications in 50 mph winds and 20 foot seas.

The 14th Coast Guard District in Hawaii received the initial notification of distress from the California’s emergency beacon but with no aircraft available to conduct a search they requested assistance from Alaska-based resources.  The 17th Coast Guard District command center responded to the request for assistance and launched the Hercules crew from Kodiak just before 2 p.m. ADT.

The 14th District joint rescue coordination center has requested the commercial vessel Nord Nightingale divert to the sailboat’s position and assist the injured man.  Three other sailboats participating in the race are also heading toward the California to provide further assistance.

After locating and establishing communications with the California, the Hercules crew was diverted while en route to Midway Island to refuel to search for the missing Taiwanese fishing vessel Sheng I Tsai 166.

The rescue crew was unable to locate the Sheng I Tsai 166 and landed in Midway for fuel and crew rest. The rescue crew is scheduled to continue searching for the fishing vessel and continue to monitor the sailboat California.

An emergency position indicating radio beacon sends out a signal to orbiting satellites which relay the signal to the Coast Guard.  This emergency beacon can be manually activated or automatically activated if knocked overboard or submerged to a specific depth if a vessel were to sink.

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