Coast Guard, partners rescue 3 overdue mariners in Kiribati

Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules airplane photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball

Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules airplane file photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball

HONOLULU — Coast Guard, Rescue Coordination Center Fiji, and the merchant vessel Natinteraoi crews rescued three overdue mariners 63 nautical miles west of Abaiang Island, Tuesday.

The Coast Guard deployed a Hercules HC-130 from Air Station Barbers Point traveling over 2,500 nautical miles to search for the overdue mariners who had been missing for over 80 hours. The HC-130 aircrew located the survivors within 40 minutes of arriving at the search area comprising over 5,600 square nautical miles, approximately the size of the State of Connecticut, and vectored the vessel Natinteraoi to safely recover all three persons and their boat.

“This is a compelling story of surviving at sea,” said Capt. Craig O’Brien, the chief of response for Coast Guard District 14. “It is an honor for the United States Coast Guard, who has been executing search and rescue in this region for over fifty years, to help bring these men home to their families.”

At 3:05 p.m., Sunday, Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu watchstanders received notification from Rescue Coordination Center Fiji of an overdue 17-foot wooden boat with three men on board that departed Nawerewere Village, Tarawa en route to the west of Abaiang Island to fish.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is world renowned for our professionalism and this was a testament to the international Maritime Search and Rescue system,” stated Admiral Michael Day, the SAR Coordinator. “I’m thankful we were able to support the people of Kiribati in locating their loved ones.”

The mariners were transported back to Betio, Tarawa.

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