Coast Guard rescues 4 fishermen from overdue skiff in Micronesia

AssateagueHONOLULU — The Coast Guard rescued four fishermen from an 18-foot skiff 61 miles west southwest of Fais Island, in the Federated States of Micronesia, Monday.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Assateague (WPB 1136) located the skiff, brought the fishermen aboard and is currently en route Falalep Island with the skiff in tow.

“This case illustrates the importance of our partnerships in the Pacific to respond quickly and work together to cover vast remote distances,” said Lt. William White, a search and rescue controller at Sector Guam. “Additionally we recommend leaving word, as these men did, with friends or family about your voyage and intended time of return to alert responders to potential distress situations.”

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Guam received notification of the overdue vessel Sunday morning. The crew reportedly left Fais Island on a five hour trip Saturday and failed to return prompting the call to responders from Pan-Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite.

PEACESAT provides public service satellite telecommunications to remote islands throughout the Pacific and has been the source of notification to authorities outside of FSM for many years.

The watchstanders immediately began coordinating a search for the fishermen, reportedly aboard a white hulled skiff with red interior with outboard motor. A crew from Pacific Missionary Airlines initially sighted the vessel approximately 35 miles southeast of Ulithi Island Sunday. The Assateague was directed to the scene and located the vessel Monday afternoon, dead in the water, with all four men aboard in good condition.

A Navy P-8 fixed wing plane crew from CTF-72 in Misawa, Japan, along with two FSS vessels from Micronesia and a Coast Guard HC-130 airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu, Hawaii were requested to assist in the search, but were stood down after the Assateague arrived on-scene and safely recovered the four men.

The Coast Guard recommends taking additional supplies, food and water, a VHF-FM radio and a personal locator beacon if possible every time mariners leave port. Distress situations can arise at any time and being prepared can reduce search times and improve the chances of being rescued.

The Assateague is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat homeported in Guam. Their missions include search and rescue, fisheries enforcement, other law enforcement and ports, waterways and coastal security.

Micronesia is a sub-region of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is a sovereign island nation that is an American associated state made up of four smaller states to include Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. Use of skiffs is very common. The nearest U.S. Coast Guard unit is located in Guam, more than 1,000 miles away.

Editor’s Note: All dates and times are in Hawaii Standard Time.

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