Couple’s miscommunication prompts exhaustive Coast Guard search

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SAN PEDRO, Calif. – The Coast Guard searched and located five people near Catalina Island, Calif., early Sunday morning after they were reported missing when they did not return from a daylong fishing trip, late Saturday night.

The boat owner’s wife contacted the Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach Command Center at 10:51 p.m., Saturday night reporting the boat, the 34-foot Wahine, and its five passengers overdue. Her understanding was the boat and its five male passengers would be returning to Shoreline Harbor in Long Beach, Calif., by Saturday evening. When her attempts to reach her husband failed, she became concerned and called the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles launched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and Coast Guard Sector San Diego launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, while the Coast Guard Cutter Blackfin and Coast Guard Station Los Angeles-Long Beach conducted boat searches.

Coast Guard Command Center watch standers received a phone call at 8 a.m., Sunday morning from one of the passengers stating that they had been moored up in Avalon Harbor all night and planned to return in the afternoon. He was shocked to learn that the Coast Guard had been searching for them. They had not been checking their cell phones or monitoring VHF radio traffic.

“This case is a perfect illustration of how important it is to not only have a voyage plan prior to departure, but to effectively relay that plan to someone ashore. A simple miscommunication led to a large scale search and rescue effort involving numerous agencies, personnel, and assets,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Kelsey, a Command Center watch stander.

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