Apra Harbor, GUAM – The Coast Guard is searching for a missing 28-foot fiberglass skiff reported to have 15 passengers aboard in the vicinity between Chuuk State and Rou Island, Wednesday.
The skiff, carrying 6 children and 9 adults, was last seen leaving the northern pass of Chuuk lagoon en route to Ruo Island, approximately 69 miles northeast, Monday. The Chuuk State Department of Transportation reported the vessel as overdue to Coast Guard Sector Guam watchstanders at approximately 10:14 a.m. Tuesday.
Sector Guam personnel are working closely with Chuuk State and Federated States of Micronesia national government officials in coordinating a joint search plan that includes assets from both governments.
The Coast Guard Cutter Assateague, a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in Apra Harbor joined the search, Wednesday.
An HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii and a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion long-range search aircraft from Okinawa, Japan are currently searching an area covering more than 4,600 square miles and are carrying life-saving equipment aboard that can be airdropped to the vessel, as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Sector Guam command center personnel contacted the only vessel in the immediate search area, the motor vessel Islander, Tuesday. The vessel crew agreed to assist Sector Guam as the initial search asset, covering an area of approximately 260 square miles by following the skiff’s route to Ruo Island.
“This type of coordination with commercial vessel traffic makes immediate searches possible in a search and rescue area of responsibility that mirrors the size of the continental United States,” said Lt. Gregg Maye, chief of Sector Guam command center.
Mariners are reminded to maintain basic safety equipment aboard their vessels and make reports of marine emergencies to emergency responders by contacting Sector Guam command center on VHF Channel 16, or by calling 671-564-USCG.