Three men who were stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island for three days are safe, Thursday, after using palm fronds to spell the word “help” in the sand.
A Navy P-8 Madfox 807 aircrew from Misawa Air Base in Japan was conducting a search pattern for the missing mariners when they spotted survivors holding lifejackets and their makeshift sign. This information was relayed back to search and rescue watchstanders in Guam and shared with the family. The survivors were then picked up and transferred by a local small boat to Pulap.
Watchstanders at the Sector Guam Command Center received notification from a Chuuk search and rescue liaison at 11:07 a.m. Tuesday of the overdue skiff en route the island of Weno.
Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast, coordinated the assistance of the Navy P-8 aircrew and vessels in the area of the skiff’s last known location to assist in the search. AMVER vessels Brilliant Jupiter and Ten Yu Maru diverted and conducted a combined 17 hours and searched 178 miles of track-line. The Navy P-8 aircrew launched at 6 a.m. Thursday to assist in the search and located the men approximately two hours into their search.
“Our combined efforts coupled with the willingness of many different resources to come together and help, led to the successful rescue of these three men in a very remote part of the Pacific,” said Lt. William White, Sector Guam public affairs officer.
AMVER, sponsored by the Coast Guard, is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the vest-sited ship or ships to respond.
Since March 28, watchstanders throughout the Coast Guard 14th District have coordinated rescue efforts in the Pacific for seven separate search and rescue cases of this nature, involving 10 AMVER vessels and six aircrews resulting in 15 lives saved.
“The Coast Guard 14th District covers an area of responsibility more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, an area almost twice the size of Russia,” said Jennifer Conklin, search and rescue mission coordinator at the Coast Guard Command Center Honolulu. “Oftentimes, we are thousands of miles away from those who need help and because of that our partnerships with the Navy, other search and rescue organizations, partner Pacific nations and AMVER are essential.”
As part of Pacific Partnership 2015, Coast Guard members conducted outreach in Chuuk and provided boating safety equipment such as lifejackets, radar reflectors and signaling mirrors.