Navy aircrew finds capsized vessel during search for missing mariners in Republic of the Marshall Islands

C-130 Taking off from Barbers Point

USCG File Photo - Air Station Barbers Point

HONOLULU — A Navy C-130 aircrew from the Condors of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 64 based out of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, found the capsized vessel of four missing mariners 12 miles southeast of Arno Atoll, Monday.

The Coast Guard, Navy and search crews from the Republic of Marshall Islands continue to search for the four people who were aboard the boat.

The HC-130 Hercules aircrew, from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, immediately diverted to the position of the 14-foot capsized boat. The aircrew conducted a search for any signs of people in the water or debris. A Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy was deployed from the aircraft. A SLDMB is a drifting surface buoy that measures surface ocean currents designed for deployment in search and rescue missions and is equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite sensor that transmits its location periodically to search and rescue coordinators.

The Coast Guard will remain in the search area until sunset. SAR coordinators notified Royal Australian Navy Adviser to divert the nearest surface assets to the position of the capsized vessel.

The Hercules aircrew launched from Oahu at 3 p.m. Saturday and has searched more than 16 total hours so far. Crews continue to search an area more than 12,000 square miles.

The patrol vessel Lomor was diverted from a trip to the northern islands and began searching for the missing group Saturday afternoon. The government’s airline also dispatched one of its two planes and began searching at first light Sunday.

The missing mariners left Bikarej Island in Arno Atoll about 3 p.m. Thursday for a 15-mile trip to Majuro, which is normally about a 90-minute transit. When the boat failed to arrive as scheduled, government officials launched a search Friday. The U.S. Embassy in Majuro contacted the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center watchstanders at 3 p.m. Friday for assistance with the search. Initial searches were unsuccessful in finding the missing mariners.

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