Search for missing surfer closed, surfboard’s owner found safe

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
HONOLULU — The Coast Guard called off their search for a possible missing surfer near Diamond Head Friday, after the owner of a surfboard that was found adrift contacted the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center.

The owner saw photos of her surfboard on local news, and contacted the Coast Guard to inform that the board had recently been lost while surfing. After a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew found the surfboard during a training exercise Thursday, a search began involving the Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Honolulu, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.

When personal watercraft are located the Coast Guard may begin a search for a potential person in distress until it can be ruled out. The assumption cannot be made that a person is not in distress. The process of ruling out distress can involve resources from multiple agencies. This is the fifth search and rescue case in 2012 that has been closed due in part to assistance from local media in broadcasting imagery that is then seen by the watercraft’s owners.

“The importance of labeling personal watercraft can’t be emphasized enough,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephanie Sherry, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center. “With a simple name or phone number, the Coast Guard and local first responders can locate the owner, limit unnecessary search and rescue cases and assist in returning property when possible .

The Coast Guard highly encourages mariners to label their watercraft and personal equipment with their name, address and phone number. Should anything become lost, first responders can immediately reach out to owners, possibly preventing an unnecessary search. A convenient way to do this is with a Paddle Smart weather-proof sticker. These stickers are free and can be easily applied by vessel owners. Labeling of watercraft is intended to help save lives, recover missing property, reduce the time, effort and resources expended on non-emergency search and rescue.

For more information about Operation Paddle Smart, visit the following links:http://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/operation-paddle-smart/

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