42 Rescued After Abandoning American Fishing Vessel On Fire in South Pacific

A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew conducts a pre-flight brief prior to launching from Air Station Barbers Point in response to a report of 40 people abandoning ship south of the Hawaiian Islands, Feb. 10, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew conducts a pre-flight brief prior to launching from Air Station Barbers Point in response to a report of 40 people abandoning ship south of the Hawaiian Islands, Feb. 10, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Forty-two people were rescued Wednesday after abandoning an American fishing vessel which had caught fire in the South Pacific approximately 1,800 miles south of Hawaii. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said it coordinated the rescue after it was notified by the owner of the fishing vessel American Eagle at approximately 8:38 a.m. Wednesday that the vessel was on fire and adrift. 

The crew members aboard 258-foot U.S.-flagged vessel abandoned ship at 10 a.m. (HST) into two life rafts, three work boats and one skiff. The coast guard said an emergency position-indicating radio beacon was activated and continues to transmit information.

Responding to the rescue was an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Barbers Point, which arrived on scene at 5:10 p.m. (HST) and established communications with the fishing vessel’s crew, dropped a dewatering pump, flash lights and flares.

Fong Seong 888, a Tuvalu-flagged oil tanker, arrived on scene at 5:30 p.m. (HST) to offer additional assistance.

According to the Coast Guard, the captain of the American Eagle reported smoke had lessened from the disabled fishing vessel and boarded the vessel along with eight other crew members to fight the fire. The captain reported the fire extinguished and the vessel to be in stable condition. They were eventually able to restart the generator, reestablish electricity and maintain communication, while the remaining 33 crew members were successfully recovered from their life rafts, work boats and skiff by the Fong Seong 888

American Eagle’s sister ship, American Victory, is en route and expected to arrive in three days to relieve the Fong Seong 888