Coast Guard suspends active search for missing fisherman off Saipan

A Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor 45-fooot Response Boat - Medium. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist David Lau.

A Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor 45-fooot Response Boat – Medium.. USCG File Photo

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard has suspended the active search for a missing fisherman who was reported overdue from a fishing trip off the eastern coast of Saipan, Thursday.

Lito Aguilar, 50, remains missing.

“Making the decision to suspend a search is never an easy one,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Blocker, a command duty officer at the Coast Guard Sector Guam command center. “We extend our deepest thanks to our partners in the Navy, Air Force, Department of Public Safety of Saipan and Tinian and other local agencies for their efforts in searching for Mr. Aguilar.”

Responders conducted a total of 50 separate searches covering 55,734 square miles and a 6,610 mile trackline search over a span of 96 hours.

Involved in the search were:

  • HC-130 Hercules fixed-wing airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
  • Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Apra Harbor and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Washington (WPB 1331), homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam
  • HH-60 Seahawk helicopter crews from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 at Andersen Air Force Base and Navy Coastal Riverine Group MK-VI vessels
  • Crews from the Department of Public Safety Saipan and Tinian
  • Personnel from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • B1-B Lancer fixed-wing airplane squadron crew also from Andersen Air Force Base
  • Crew of the Panamanian-flagged motor vessel Cosmo Ace, participating in the AMVER program

Watchstanders at Sector Guam received a report from a concerned neighbor at 6:56 p.m. Thursday stating Aguilar usually departs from Sugar Dock, Saipan, at noon each day and reportedly returns around 5 p.m.

AMVER, or Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System is a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship reporting system used by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea using vessels of opportunity in the region.

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