Multinational search underway for missing fishermen southwest of Palau

HONOLULU — U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Defense, Japanese coast guard and AMVER partners are searching for seven fishermen Tuesday, after their Japanese-flagged 50-foot fishing boat, the Gyotoku Maru No. 1, reportedly capsized 218 miles southwest of Palau.

Assisting with the search are:

  • Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker fixed wing airplane aircrew from Anderson Air Force Base in Yiga, Guam
  • Pacific Mission Aviation fixed wing aircraft based out Yap and Palau
  • AMVER fishing vessel Hiro Maru
  • Japanese coast guard JA500A fixed wing aircrew from Okinawa, Japan
  • Japanese National Fisheries University vessel Koyo Maru
  • Fishing vessel Matsu Ichimaru No. 8, sister ship of the Gyotoky Maru No. 1

En route are:

  • HC-130 Hercules fixed wing airplane aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii
  • U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336), homeported in Apra Harbor, Guam
  • Navy P-8 Poseidon fixed wing airplane aircrew from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan
  • Japanese coast guard vessel Ryukyu (PLH 09)
  • Palau patrol vessel President H.I. Remeliik

“We are coordinating with the Department of Defense, Japanese coast guard, the government of Palau and AMVER partners to bring resources to bear for the search,” said Lt. Cmdr. Josh Empen, the search and rescue mission coordinator at Sector Guam. “Search and rescue in vast and remote regions is only possible through unity of effort and strong international partnerships.”

At 1:51 p.m., Monday (Hawaii Standard Time), the Koyo Maru crew initially located the capsized vessel Gyotoku Maru No. 1, 253 miles southwest from Palau.

At 8:32 p.m., Monday (Hawaii Standard Time), the Stratotanker aircrew conducted a search of the area and located two possible life rings and one life raft but no signs of survivors. Several other vessels of opportunity in the area conducted searches but have seen no signs of the fishermen.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Guam received an emergency positioning indicating radio beacon alert hit at 9:18 p.m., Sunday (Hawaii Standard Time) regarding a possible distress situation for the Gyotoku Maru No. 1.

Sector Guam watchstanders confirmed the EPIRB hit and registration of the fishing vessel with the Mission Coordination Center in Japan. The vessel is reportedly a longline tuna vessel registered with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Weather on scene was reported as 20 mph winds, seas 2 to 4 feet and 10 miles of visibility.

The Coast Guard 14th District has responsibility for search and rescue across 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean to include the main Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa extending out in all directions. The Coast Guard is the world’s premier maritime search and rescue agency ready to answer the call for help, even in the vast and remote regions of the Pacific Ocean.

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea, especially in remote areas. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

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