Coast Guard, Navy respond to distress beacon off Maui

MH-60R Seahawk helicopter (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Cody M. Deccio)

MH-60R Seahawk helicopter (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Cody M. Deccio)

HONOLULU — Three boaters off Maui were rescued by a Navy helicopter crew following Coast Guard notification of the distress beacon, Tuesday.

“I was lucky enough to be the aircraft commander on yesterday’s flight, and really it was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time,” said Lt. Cmdr. Megan Barnett, pilot of the Navy H-60 from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu was notified of a 406 megahertz emergency position indicating radio beacon at noon, Tuesday. The beacon was properly registered and watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, working collaboratively with JRCC, reached out to the EPIRB’s registered contact and learned that three boaters departed from Kahana, Maui, to the north side of Molokai in a 17-foot boat earlier in the day.

“The use of an emergency locator beacon allowed responders to locate these three boaters quickly,” said Chief Petty Officer Casey Robert, Joint Rescue Coordination Center supervisor. “The Coast Guard was alerted to the distress beacon and diverted assets from another case. Luckily, a Navy helicopter crew was in the area on other operations and immediately responded to the homing beacon they heard. We value the quick action and partnership we have with the Navy to enhance public safety and search and rescue response in the region.”

JRCC watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and diverted a Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from another case. A Navy H-60 from HMS-37 out of Kaneohe Bay operating in the Maui area detected the audible 121.5MHz homing beacon and hoisted the boaters from the boat and safely transported them to Kahului Maui Airport.

“My crew did exactly what they train to do,” said Barnett, “from hearing the beacon and looking out for a possible vessel, to spotting them waving life jackets at us, all the way through safely executing the approach to the vessel and recovering all three personnel without incident.”

The boaters were in good condition, with no injuries and reported their engine would not restart and they had been disabled. The boat was salvaged and towed to Molokai.

Copilot Lt.j.g. Tyler Faris said, “It was incredibly rewarding to see our training kick into action today. I am happy to have been in the right place at the right time and use our capabilities to make a difference.”

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