Long-range search underway for distressed mariner in Pacific storm

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
HONOLULU — The Coast Guard is coordinating the search for a mariner in distress aboard a 24-foot sailboat approximately 944 miles northeast of the main Hawaiian Islands.

At 8:47 a.m., watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center received notification from a concerned friend that the vessel’s owner, Rimas Meleshyus, transmitted a text via satellite stating, “I lost my life raft, in danger now.”

Meleshyus departed Hilo, Hawaii, Feb. 9 on a solo voyage to San Francisco aboard his vessel Pier Pressure.

Attempts were made to establish communications with Meleshyus via cell phone, computer and satellite device.

At 10:32 a.m., an HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu diverted from a training mission and is enroute to the vessel’s last known position.The flight to the Pier Pressure’s last known position is approximately four hours. The Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Honolulu was also diverted to assist in the search.

Coast Guard watchstanders have identified two Good Samaritan vessels in the area. The Liberia-flagged tanker ship Athens Star and Bahama-flagged carrier ship Lapis Arrow have diverted to assist.

The Coast Guard also requested, through the Federal Aviation Administration, that aircraft passing through the area remain alert for any signs of distress.

Weather conditions at the last known position of the Pier Pressure are gale force winds and seas of 20 feet.

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