HONOLULU – The Coast Guard located and boarded a derelict sailing vessel Friday nearly 1,600 miles west of Oahu that was first reported missing from Honolulu in early October.
Greg Stephanoff departed Ala Wai boat harbor on a possible voyage to Hanalei Bay on the island of Kauai Oct. 2, 2013. A concerned friend notified the Coast Guard Oct. 4 of Stephanoff’s departure from the harbor and that he hadn’t heard from him for two days.
The Coast Guard broadcast a notice to mariners via VHF Channel 16, contacted harbor masters, marinas and other known locations Stephanoff frequented requesting information on his whereabouts. Without any new information, the Coast Guard suspended the search Oct. 15 pending further developments.
On Nov. 7, crewmembers aboard the container ship Manukai notified the Coast Guard that they had come across what appeared to be a derelict sailing vessel named the C:Drive approximately 1,300 miles west of Oahu. The container ship attempted to communicate with the vessel on VHF channel 16 and made several blasts on the ship’s whistle in an attempt to contact anyone aboard. No one was observed aboard and the Manukai continued its course having no means of boarding.
An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew was launched from Air Station Barbers Point and the fishing vessel Wakatake Maru was redirected to rendezvous with C:Drive. The Wakatake Maru crewmembers located the C:Drive, but weather conditions made boarding the vessel unsafe.
The Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, a 225-foot buoy tender home ported in Honolulu, was dispatched to locate and board the sailing vessel. The transit from Honolulu to C:Drive’s last know position took four days.
The crew of the Kukui located the C:Drive and conducted a boarding at 3:30 p.m. Friday. They discovered no one aboard and no indication of what may have happened. The vessel was marked with paint by the boarding team and remains adrift. A GPS and personal effects were removed from the vessel to possibly assertain what transpired during the month the vessel was adrift.