Week Long Search In Marshall Islands Turns Up No Sign Of Missing Boat

U.S. Coast Guard, RMI Sea Patrol unable to find pair of boaters

By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, August 26, 2016) – Despite a major search effort involving the U.S. Coast Guard and Marshall Islands Sea Patrol, there has been no sighting of a small boat with two passengers lost at sea in Marshall Islands waters a week ago Thursday.

Officials in Majuro said in addition to continuing to search for the boat, they have contacted the Parties to the Nauru Agreement or PNA office in Majuro to alert purse seiners fishing in this area of the Pacific to be on the lookout for the 16-foot boat.

Last Wednesday, the small boat departed the capital atoll, Majuro, for Mili Atoll, a sparsely populated necklace of islands about 60 miles to the south. The boat with a 40hp engine left in the company of a larger government-operated landing craft that was also heading to Mili. But about eight miles from Mili, the boat reportedly separated from the larger vessel and has not been heard from since.

Responding to a request from the Marshall Islands government, the U.S. Coast Guard spent four days flying a C-130 search and rescue plane in Marshall Islands water, starting last Friday. A Marshall Islands Sea Patrol vessel has been searching the area continuously since it received a report last Thursday that the small boat had failed to arrive as expected at Mili.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Keyoka Kabua said search efforts by Sea Patrol are continuing, although the Coast Guard suspended aerial search operations Tuesday. She said the ministry has also contacted authorities in Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia for assistance in connection with the missing boat.

She said her ministry together with the Chief Secretary’s office, Sea Patrol and the Australian Navy have been coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard and regularly updating the family of those missing at sea.

“Usually the Coast Guard searches for three days, but they extended it for a fourth day,” Kabua said. “The Coast Guard search is not suspended. They are still willing to assist and are waiting for further instructions.”

The small boat reportedly has no communications or safety gear on board.

Marianas Variety
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