US Coast Guard suspends search for missing fishermen off Midway Island

Photo: Taiwan Fisheries Department

The US Coast Guard has suspended the active search for the 10 crewmembers of the Taiwanese-flagged fishing vessel Yong-Yu-Sing No 18 who went missing approximately 885 kilometres northeast of Midway Island in the Northern Pacific.

Coast Guard 14th District chief of response Captain Craig O’Brien said that the search for the missing sailors was carried out despite the challenging weather in the area. However, no trace of the individuals has yet been found.

The coast guard has suspended the active search pending further developments, O’Brien added.

Rescue crews from the coast guard, the US Navy, and good Samaritans aboard four fishing vessels and five Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) vessels conducted a total of 34 searches, over the course of 80 hours, covering nearly 114,000 square kilometres.

The partners had been searching for Yong-Yu-Sing No 18‘s crew since December 31, 2020, after Rescue Coordination Center Taipei lost contact with the vessel. An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 aircrew located the adrift vessel on January 1, with a missing life raft and no sign of the 10 crewmembers.

Both Air Station Barbers Point and navy aircrews performed daily air sorties of the area while the merchant and fishing vessel crews conducted surface searches.

The reported weather on scene throughout the search has been winds regularly greater than 17 knots and seas of three to seven metres and is forecasted to rapidly deteriorate.

Despite the high winds and seas, crewmembers aboard the Taiwanese fishing vessel Lian-Hong No 67 and the AMVER vessel Horizon Spirit were able to circle within 60 metres of the abandoned vessel.

The rescue crews reported no signs of the missing mariners and placed an automatic tracking system beacon that allowed watchstanders to continuously track the vessel during the search.

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