Missing sailboat bound for Philippines found

C-130 Taking off from Barbers Point
USCG File Photo

GUAM – The five missing boaters who left Guam on Jan. 6., bound for Cebu, Philippines have been located Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Chamorro standard time.

The husband of one of the missing boaters was contacted by his wife via cell phone Sunday 1:30 p.m. He immediately called Rescue Coordination Center Guam and gave the Pineapple’s position in Leyte Gulf, Philippines. The husband confirmed the vessel ran into bad weather and suffered a rudder and radio casualty. This delayed the Pineapple’s voyage but it was never in danger of sinking.

Two Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft, two Navy P-3 Orion aircraft, two Air Force C-12 aircraft, and the Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia searched more than 63 hours and covered approximately 122,600 square nautical miles in the Philippine Sea. Rescue crews with the Philippine Coast Guard also aided in the search for the sailboat Pineapple.

“This was a tremendous international multi-service search effort that covered an expansive area of open ocean,” said Capt. Thomas Sparks, U.S. Coast Guard Guam Sector Commander. “Although we didn’t find the Pineapple, reports indicate we were looking in exactly the right spot.”

“These open ocean cases are extremely challenging. Even under ideal conditions it is very difficult to spot a vessel from an aircraft,” said Sparks.

The Coast Guard also received assistance from the neighboring island nations of the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

“I’m elated for the family and friends of the Pineapple, but compelled to point out that this voyage was made without taking basic, common-sense precautions. The vessel did not have long distance communications or emergency distress equipment, and a comprehensive float plan was not filed,” said Sparks.

“As a result, the families and friends experienced days of needless anxiety and hundreds of thousands of dollars were expended on search efforts that were potentially dangerous for our service members and ultimately unnecessary,” said Sparks.

“Bottom line though, Coast Guard rescue crews are grateful the crew of the Pineapple was found safe. Family and loved ones have been notified and I am sure they are anxiously awaiting their safe return back home,” said Sparks.

The Philippine Coast Guard is escorting the Pineapple crew to Cebu, Philippines, which is their final destination.

The Coast Guard will conduct a post search and rescue briefing with the crew to determine the events surrounding this case.

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