An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew search for the crew of the fishing vessel Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18, 550-miles northeast of Midway Island, Jan. 12, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard

Search Underway for Crew of Abandoned Fishing Vessel Off Midway Island

Mike Schuler
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January 12, 2021

A search involving U.S. Coast Guard, Navy and good samaritan vessels is continuing for 10 missing crew members of from an abandoned Taiwanese fishing vessel approximately 550 miles off the coast of Midway Island.

The search has been underway since December 31, 2020, after Rescue Coordination Center Taipei lost contact with 95-foot F/V Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18. An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 aircrew later located the adrift Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18, Jan. 1, with a missing life raft and no signs of the 10 crewmembers.

An analysis of imagery has revealed there is damage to the ship and one of the vessel’s life rafts was missing, leaving searchers to believe that crew may have abandoned ship.

Following the discovery of the vessel, JRCC Honolulu watchstanders coordinated with both the Navy and good Samaritans aboard four Taiwan fishing vessels and three Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) merchant vessels to continuously search the area.

Good Samaritans aboard the FV Lian-Horng No. 67 have now placed an automatic tracking system beacon aboard the adrift vessel, but so far have been unable to board due to heavy seas.

“We continue to work closely with our partners during the search efforts and to date have consecutively completed 29 search sorties lasting 73-hours in total and covering more than 40,000 square nautical-miles,” said Cmdr. Scott Higbee, a Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu (JRCC) search and rescue mission coordinator. “We will continue to coordinate closely and look into all search options while we move forward.”

The reported weather on scene has been winds regularly greater than 20 mph and seas of 11 to 25 feet.

Over the weekend, both the Lian-Horng No. 67 and the AMVER vessel MVV Horizon Spirit circled within 200 feet to search for signs of any crew, gathered imagery to help ascertain the cause of the incident, and dropped the automatic tracking system beacon on the vessel. The automatic tracking system beacon will allow watchstanders to continuously track the vessel as the search continues.

“One of the largest challenges with regards to this case besides the vast distances involved has been the weather,” said Higbee. “High seas, strong winds, and low visibility have been a constant obstacle that has prevented crews from boarding the Yong-Yu-Sing No. 18.”

Involved in the search to date:

  • Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point C-130 Hercules aircrews
  • A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130J Hercules aircrew
  • Four Taiwan fishing vessels
  • Navy P-8 Poseidon aircrews
  • The crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Oocl Tokyo
  • The crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Nicon Future
  • The crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Horizon Spirit
  • The crew of the AMVER vessel M/V Zim New York
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