Coast Guard Suspends Search for Remaining Crewmembers of Hai Tong #7

HONOLULU – Crewmembers from a Coast Guard Air Station Barber’s Point C-130 Hercules search plane the Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia have suspended their search for six people still missing from the sunken container ship Hai Tong #7, pending the development of new information. 

Hai Tong #7 went down after becoming in distress in heavy weather 375 north-west of Guam July 10, during the passage of Typhoon Man-Yi. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy and Good Samaritan rescuers have been vigorously searching for the missing crewmen.

The Coast Guards unit’s efforts covered an area roughly 10 times the size of Oahu. Rescue crews completed over 14 separate flights, adding up to roughly 82 hours of flight time and surface assets conducted over 100 hours of search patterns. 

“Suspending the search for a crew is never an easy decision,” said Lt. James Garland, District 14 search and rescue coordinator. “We discussed all that we did and why we came to the decision with the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this time. We always want to have a successful outcome in a search and reunite all loved ones with their families; unfortunately that didn’t happen in this particular case.”

The Coast Guard was first alerted to a possible distress at 11 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time July 10 when an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) registered to the Hai Tong #7 began signaling. The Horizon Falcon arrived on scene at the beacon’s last known position July 11 and discovered people in the water, an oil slick and other debris. The Horizon Falcon and the Ikan Bilis, both container vessels, rescued 10 people from the water. A Navy P-3 airplane and crew from Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan, a Navy P-3 airplane and crew from Misawa Naval Air Station in Misawa, Japan, two Coast Guard C-130 search planes and crews from Honolulu, and the Coast Guard cutter Sequoia from Guam were sent to respond to the distress by Coast Guard search and rescue controllers coordinating the rescue effort from Honolulu. At least seven different commercial vessels have responded as well.

The Hai Tong #7 is a 420-foot Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, owned by Fuzhou Haijing Shipping, and was bound for China from Papua-New Guinea. Survivors reported the cargo began shifting as the vessel made its way through 70-mph winds and 24-foot seas during the passage of Typhoon Man-Yi.

The eight Hai Tong # 7 crewmembers receiving medical attention in Guam were brought to shore at about 8 a.m. July 13 Hawaii Standard Time, by the Coast Guard Cutter Assateague, a 110-foot patrol boat home ported in Guam.

One of the survivors was overheard to have said to a Coast Guard rescuer through a Chinese translator that the crew of the Hai Tong #7 knew they were close to Guam and if they could turn the EPIRB on they would get help.

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