Thanks to an extensive search effort by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard, a Good Samaritan vessel rescued five fishermen stranded off the remote South Pacific island of Houk in recent days.
Around 7:15 p.m. last Thursday, the Coast Guard rescue coordination center in Guam received a report that a fishing skiff with five men aboard was lost and missing. Watchstanders called a SAR Hercules HC-130 aircraft from Hawaii – 3,500 miles to the east – to join the search. The cutter Myrtle Hazard also diverted to the area, and the Coast Guard began contacting nearby merchant vessels for assistance in the search effort.
At 3:15 p.m. last Friday, an air crew from a Guam-based Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker KC-135 located the skiff in a position about 50 miles southwest of Pulusuk (Houk) Atoll. The Coast Guard HC-130 met the Air Force crew and dropped emergency supplies for survivors, including food, water and portable radios.
The Hoegh Brasilia, an AMVER participating carrier, arrived shortly thereafter and recovered all the fishermen, with proper COVID protocols. The Brasilia returned to Houk, and the cutter Myrtle Hazard escorted the skiff back to the island the next morning.
“Through coordination with multiple response agencies, we were able to save five members of our community and get them back home to their families,” said Cmdr. Kristen Hahn, search and rescue mission coordinator for the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu. “That the sailors had a float plan and communicated that plan to their family directly contributed to their rescue.”