Ship Sinks Northwest of Guam

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Ten people were rescued and 12 people remain missing as Coast Guard, Navy and Good Samaritan rescue crews search the Pacific Ocean about 375 miles northwest of Guam. An emergency beacon registered to the motor vessel Hai Tong #7 began broadcasting a distress signal at about 11 a.m. July 10. About 20 minutes later the emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) signal ceased broadcasting. The Coast Guard issued an urgent marine broadcast asking mariners in the area to assist.

The masters of the motor vessel Ikan Bilis and the Horizon Falcon diverted to the scene. The Horizon Falcon arrived on scene shortly before noon July 11. The master reported an oil slick and debris in position last broadcast by the emergency beacon. "The EPRIB signal saved the lives of those people rescued," said Lt. Kevin Floyd, a rescue coordinator for the Coast Guard in Honolulu. "We wouldn't have know any one was in trouble or where to send help if the EPIRB signal hadn't alerted us to the distress. A properly registered, 406 MHz EPRIB is often the Coast Guard's first signal that someone needs help."

A Navy P-3 airplane and crew from Kadina Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan; a Navy P-3 airplane and crew from Misawa Naval Air Station in Misawa, Japan; two Coast Guard C-130 airplanes and crews from Barbers Point; and the Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia from Guam were sent to respond to the distress. The Navy P-3 crew arrived on scene at the emergency beacon's location and began searching for survivors. The crew spotted several persons wearing orange life jackets or survival suits floating among debris in the water and directed the two Good Samaritan vessels to their position. The Ikan Bilis recovered eight people, including two injured persons; and the Horizon Falcon rescue two persons from the water.

The Ikan Bilis and crew, along with the eight survivors, are en route Guam. The Horizon Falcon and crew, along with the two survivors, are en route China. The Good Samaritan vessels Konmax, Clipper Lagoon, Coral Emerald, and R.J. Pfierffer continue to search for the remaining crewmembers, along with the Navy and Coast Guard aircrews. "The immediate response by so many mariners is impressive," said Cmdr. Frank Genco, chief of the Coast Guard's search and rescue branch in Honolulu. "Mariners truly understand the importance of helping out their fellow sailors. The Coast Guard may be farther way and mariners have to rely on each other to help out times like these." The Hai Tong #7 is a 420-foot Chinese-flagged, bulk log-carrier, owned by Fuzhou Haijing Shipping, en route China from Papua-New Guinea. Survivors reported that the cargo began shifting as the vessel made way through 70-mph winds and 24-foot seas. Rescue crews report seeing an oil sheen, but mainly logs and other debris in the area.

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