Coast Guard Searching for Mariner in Distress Off the Big Island

UPDATE:

A mariner aboard a 24-foot sailboat 944 miles from the main Hawaiian Islands is safe and continuing his voyage to San Francisco after surviving a gale-force storm in the Pacific.

The Coast Guard suspended the search Thursday for the sailing vessel Pier Pressure after communication was established with the owner, Rimas Meleshyus.

At 5:15 p.m., Meleshyus updated his coordinates and sent a text message via satellite device stating he was ok and did not need any assistance.

Watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center received notification Thursday morning from a concerned friend that 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 sailboat.

After unsuccessful attempts were made to establish communications with Meleshyus via cell phone, computer and satellite device, the Coast Guard launched a rescue mission in search of the distressed mariner.

An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, the Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, homeported in Honolulu, and two Good Samaritan vessels were enroute to the sailboat’s last known position when Meleshyus established communication.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to ensure they have all necessary safety equipment aboard and that it is in working condition before heading out on the water. This includes having appropriate safety and communications equipment such as lifejackets and a working VHF radio, checking local weather conditions and ensuring the vessel is seaworthy.

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.

Rimas in Hilo on December 17, 2013

Rimas in Hilo on December 17, 2013

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.

Rimas Meleshyus's boat the

Rimas Meleshyus’s Sailboat

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.

For more information, contact the 14th Coast Guard District public affairs office at (808) 535-3230.

According to his Facebook page… he was heading to Samoa:

Rimas Meleshyus

February 8

I tomorrow leave now for American Somoa. To all so grateful for help and friendship! So thankful! In morning I set sail for open sea 7:30!

 

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