CTF-72 conducts successful search and rescue operation off the coast of Guam

The stranded fisherman signaling to the P8A Poseidon aircraft conducting the Search and Rescue (SAR) with a mirror of the coast of Guam 17JAN2020. (US Navy Photo/RELEASED)
January 19, 2020

ANDERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Guam– Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 conducted a Search and Rescue (SAR) mission out of Anderson Air Force Base (AFB), Guam, 17 JAN. Commander 7th Fleet launched CTF-72.2’s Ready-2 aircraft and Combat Aircrew (CAC) 2 in response to a report of a missing person and small craft lost at sea. The individual onboard a 16ft fishing boat was reported missing on Jan. 13, 2020 about 750 nautical miles (NM) off the coast of Guam after his vessel lost its anchor and drifted out to sea. After receiving tasking from Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) Guam, VP-45 was assigned a search box 750 NM South East of the U.S. territory. Their search grid was roughly 70NM by 30NM, focusing primarily on a radar search with legs spacing about 2 NM apart.

The crew launched from Kadena Air Force base at approximately 9 a.m. local time, stopping at Anderson AFB to refuel before entering their search grid. CAC-2 began their search pattern at approximately 4 p.m. local time, flying at 1,000 ft in altitude to enhance the visual assistance provided by the aircrafts Electrical Optical Infrared (EO/IR) camera.

Lieutenant Taylor Welling, CAC-2’s Tactical Coordinator (TACCO) said that forty-five minutes into their search pattern, Acoustic Warfare Operator Second Class Corry Cordes, marked an unknown radar contact. Welling went on to explain that after marking the vessel on radar, Acoustic Warfare Operator Second Class Spencer Erickson, investigated with the EO/IR camera. He confirmed that the vessel was in fact the 16ft fishing boat that had been reported missing four days earlier. The individual onboard was signaling to the aircraft with a hand mirror, and was still in good health with drinkable water still on the vessel. CAC-2 Dropped a SAR kit with food, water and other supplies to assist the stranded fisherman until more help could arrive.

After dropping the SAR kit CAC-2 contacted FSS Micronesia, an additional vessel participating in the search, roughly 50NM from their location. The Micronesia arrived at approximately 8:35 p.m. local time.

“It’s incredible how quickly we were able to respond to and complete the Search and rescue,” said Lieutenant Taylor Welling, the CAC-2 TACCO who participated in the SAR mission. “My crew performed with extreme precision and quickness today. From the time we got the call to launch the ready, to the time we were relieved by the Micronesia, CAC-2 were true professionals who excelled in their craft. I am very proud to be a part of CAC-2, and I am very grateful that we were able to locate the missing fisherman so quickly.”

VP-45, based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is operating from Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. The Squadron is conducting maritime patrol and reconnaissance as well as theater outreach operations within U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.