By Giff Johnson
Three Marshall Islands fishermen have not been seen since last Thursday, when their small outboard engine suffered engine problems and drifted out of the southwestern Kwajalein Atoll track into the ocean.
Emergency calls from the 20-foot ship via high-frequency radio were received at 5:30 pm Thursday and authorities said in less than an hour, two ships were sent at night to look for the missing ship.
When search ships reached the open sea pass on the west side of the Kwajalein lagoon, they reported fishing boats hovering and already six miles outside the gap with winds blowing between 25 and 35 miles per hour, according to Marshall Islands National Disaster Management Office Director Timmy Langrine.
They did not chase down the depressed ship after sunset around 6:45 pm.
On Friday, two Marshall Islands patrol boats searched fruitlessly in the sea waters west of the Kwajalein Atoll.
Marshall Islands authorities requested search and rescue assistance from the US Coast Guard, which sent C-130 aircraft from Honolulu who spent Sunday searching together with Marshall Islands patrol ships.
“At around 1835 hours (Sunday), a notification was sent from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center-Honolulu that the search and rescue mission was unsuccessful, no sightings of the ship were lost through C130 air search,” Langrine said.
The Coast Guard did not continue the search on Monday, reportedly related to the crew fatigue problem.
The Marshall Islands patrol boat continued to search in an expanding arc outside Kwajalein on Monday.
Only two atolls are directly west or northwest of Kwajalein: Lae and Ujae, both inhabited.
Apart from Lae and Ujae, there are only open seas to the west of Kwajalein for hundreds of miles to the islands in
The state of Pohnpei from the Federated States of Micronesia, nearly 600 miles (965 kilometers) far away.
Langrine said while the three men, who lived on Ebeye Island in Kwajalein Atoll, had HF radios on board, he did not know whether they had food and water.
The fishing boat has a single 40hp engine and is painted white outside the hull and blue inside. It’s called “Winnie Boat.”
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