The US Coast Guard and good Samaritans aboard several commercial vessels responded to a vessel fire on the 650-foot Sincerity Ace 1,800 nautical miles northwest of Oahu on the high seas, on December 31. 16 of the 21 crew were rescued, but there are five missing, with fears that three of them are dead.
The Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) in Honolulu received notification from JRCC Japan at 1:04 a.m. of the situation. Watchstanders in Honolulu immediately issued a SafetyNet broadcast asking the assistance of vessels in the area and directed the launch of the Hercules from US Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.
The master of the Sincerity Ace reported a significant vessel fire, ongoing firefighting efforts, and an intent to abandon ship. The crew was able to launch one of the life rafts, and four of the 21 mariners abandoned ship with lifejackets. It is not known if they reached the life raft upon entering the water. The remaining 17 crew are reportedly continuing to fight the fire.
Giving an update on the incident, USCG said that good Samaritans aboard four merchant vessels rescued 16 of the 21 crew. Three of the five missing mariners reportedly were located but remain in the water as they are unresponsive and unable to grab onto life saving equipment to be brought aboard. Search efforts are now focused on the two remaining potential survivors in a search area of 5,832 square nautical miles.
One commercial vessel, the Green Lake, went on scene to provide assistance and rescue options, with three additional commercial vessels and a US Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew en route.
Two additional vessels, a car carrier, and a tanker are en route, while the USCG is also launching a second Hercules from Air Station Barbers Point. Both Hercules airplanes are equipped with self locating datum marker buoys to track positions and additional search and rescue equipment such as life rafts and survival gear that can be dropped to survivors. In addition, the US Navy will provide a fixed wing aircraft to assist in search efforts. Other military surface and air assets are being considered.
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