Emergency beacon in North Pacific prompting international response

C-130 Taking off from Barbers Point

USCG File Photo

HONOLULU – The Coast Guard is responding to an emergency distress beacon activated aboard a Taipei fishing vessel in the North Pacific Friday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu received a signal from a 406 Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon at 4 a.m. Friday registered to the Ming Horng Yu 123, an 85-foot Taiwanese flagged fishing vessel.

The signal identified the position of the vessel as 1,500 miles northwest of Oahu. The Coast Guard was unable to contact the vessel, but confirmed with the vessel owner there are 11 people aboard.

Watchstanders relayed a call for assistance to vessels in the area though the use of SafteyNET, a satellite based communication system which provides critical information to vessels. The crew of the Panamanian vessel Amorita, a 623-foot cargo carrier, diverted their course to offer assistance. It is estimated they will reach the search area about 5 a.m. Saturday. The Amorita is responding to the call for help under the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) Program.

A C-130 Hercules aircrew launched from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point Friday morning to locate and identify if the vessel is in distress. The Hercules is equipped with life rafts and survival equipment which can be dropped to survivors in the water if needed. The aircrew should reach the ships position by 4 p.m. The position transmitted by the beacon was 30-38.7 N 174-40.8 E.

Weather conditions are seas of 37 feet and 39 mph winds, gusting to 49.

More information on the AMVER program can be found at www.AMVER.com.
More information on SafteyNET can be found at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=gmdssSafteyNet.

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