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Articles: Search for Missing Marshall Islands Mariners Suspended

Contributed by YokweOnline on Dec 05, 2010 - 10:28 AM

  • Coast Guard suspends search for missing mariners in the Republic of Marshall Islands - Search launched Nov. 27, they searched more than 115 total hours, covering an area more than 15,580 square miles.
  • Coast Guard turns up second body of group lost at sea in Marshalls - found Baby Kaiko, who was reported to be seven months pregnant when she departed on an overloaded 13-foot boat that capsized in heavy seas.
  • WORLD TEACH: Information on Lost Volunteer - WorldTeach regrets to announce that James De Brueys, a volunteer in the Marshall Islands, has been missing at sea since Friday afternoon, November 26.
  • University alum lost off Marshall Islands in Pacific Ocean - James de Brueys was volunteering as an English teacher for young children as part of the WorldTeach program.
  • As one body found, Marshalls search stepped up - Anwel Anwel, who is said to have been about 20 years old, found many miles from off Arno Atoll in the open ocean, by one of the search boats.
  • Coast Guard Update Two: Still Looking for Survivors - found the capsized vessel of four missing mariners 12 miles southeast of Arno Atoll, Monday.

  • SUSPENDS: The Coast Guard suspended search and rescue operations at 8:15 a.m. Friday, for the missing mariners who left Arno Atoll about 3 p.m. Nov. 25, but failed to arrive at Majuro.“Suspending any search without positive outcome is the most difficult decision as district commander has to make,” said Rear. Adm. Charles W. Ray, the 14th Coast Guard District’s Commander. “I’d like to express my sincere condolences to family and friends of the people aboard this vessel; I am confident this multi-agency search and rescue operation was conducted thoroughly, utilizing all available assets.”

    SEARCH: One of the deceased mariners, a Republic of Marshall Island’s citizen was recovered by the RMI police patrol boat and transported to shore.The body of the pregnant woman was located by the Hercules aircrew. An SLDMB was deployed to track the body’s position. An RMI patrol boat is attempting to relocate and identify the body. Still missing are the United States citizen and RMI citizen. “This was the most extensive search and rescue case the Coast Guard has worked in the Republic of Marshall Islands. It would not have been possible without the assistance from the Australian and RMI governments, and the United States Embassy in Majuro,” said Cmdr. Mark Morin, 14th Coast Guard District’s incident management branch chief. “Without their assistance we could not have coordinated all the assets required to affect this mission.”

    SECOND: Marshall Islands emergency response official Junan Nimoto said the patrol vessel Lomor was to be dispatched at first light Friday to attempt to pick up the body of Baby Kaiko, who was reported to be seven months pregnant when she departed on an overloaded 13-foot boat that capsized in heavy seas sometime after departing from Arno Atoll on Friday afternoon.The body of high school student Anwel Anwel was brought back to Majuro Thursday morning and buried later that day after being found by one of about a dozen vessels that joined in an intensive search for survivors Wednesday. The driver of the small outboard engine boat, Kiotak Abitlom Joream, and American WorldTeach volunteer teacher James de Brueys have yet to be found. Local fishermen and scuba divers with experience in search and rescue operations give them little chance of surviving after seven days in the ocean. The boat had no lifejackets or safety equipment on board. Joream was bringing a cooler of freshly caught fish to Majuro, the capital, to sell and de Brueys was to join with other American teachers for a Thanksgiving dinner last Friday night. The journey between Arno and Majuro is normally a one-to-two-hour boat ride. But high winds and heavy surf turned what on other days would have been a routine boat ride into a disaster. The 13-foot boat they were in was found Tuesday overturned and partly submerged.

    UPDATE: The HC-130 Hercules aircrew, from Air Station Barbers Point, immediately diverted to the position of the 14-foot capsized boat. The aircrew conducted a search for any signs of people in the water or debris. A Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy was deployed from the aircraft. A SLDMB is a drifting surface buoy that measures surface ocean currents designed for deployment in search and rescue missions and is equipped with a Global Positioning Satellite sensor that transmits its location periodically to search and rescue coordinators. The Coast Guard will remain in the search area until sunset. SAR coordinators notified Royal Australian Navy Adviser to divert the nearest surface assets to the position of the capsized vessel. The Hercules aircrew launched from Oahu at 3 p.m. Saturday and has searched more than 16 total hours so far. Crews continue to search an area more than 12,000 square miles. The patrol vessel Lomor was diverted from a trip to the northern islands and began searching for the missing group Saturday afternoon. The government’s airline also dispatched one of its two planes and began searching at first light Sunday.

    FOUND: One body has been found and is believed to be one of four passengers from a small boat that went missing in rough seas on Friday afternoon and later capsized.Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says body was some distance from where the empty boat was found. “A body was found many miles from off Arno Atoll in the open ocean, by one of the search boats. A fair distance away, it’s in the same general vicinity, but from the way it was explained to me, it was a few miles away. It’s pretty remarkable.”

    WORLDTEACH: De Brueys, 22, and three local Marshallese departed on a small boat from Arno Atoll toward the capital city of Majuro on Majuro Atoll, on a routine trip which normally takes one to two hours. The boat failed to arrive at its destination. A U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue team as well as the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol, and many private local boat-owners have been searching the region. The missing boat was found empty and capsized by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, November 30, about 12 miles south of Arno. The U.S. Coast Guard is currently deployed in the search for James and his fellow passengers in coordination with the U.S. Embassy on Majuro. WorldTeach Field Staff Annie Himmelsteib and Angela Saunders are engaging in aerial searches and assisting in the recovery effort. Annie had visited James a month ago at his site. “James is a wonderful volunteer,” says Annie. “He has adapted so easily to the Marshallese lifestyle. In fact, he was the only one at orientation who figured out how to open a fresh coconut. He is greatly loved on his island.” James, a native of Baton Rouge, LA and recent graduate from Louisiana State University arrived in the Marshall Islands in July for orientation and has been teaching English at an elementary school at his site in Bikarej, on the northwest tip of Arno.

    TEACHER: Steven de Brueys, James' brother, said his family received a call Tuesday afternoon from a Coast Guard captain saying his missing boat was found empty and overturned.
    "They haven't found anyone yet, and the nearest island was 12 miles away," Steven de Brueys said Tuesday. "With his weight and strength he could be floating in water for 120 hours."
    Steven de Brueys said the three other people on the boat were James de Brueys' host father and two women from the Marshall Islands. They were traveling to another island where they could communicate with family members. Junan Nimoto, an official in the Marshall Islands government's disaster response office, announced Sunday morning that government officials had been unsuccessful in their search for the group, which never returned from a boat trip that typically lasts about 90 minutes. Steven de Brueys said helicopters, members of U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy and islanders are searching for James.
    Family friend and University law student Jessica Smith said several masses were held in James de Brueys' name in Atlanta and Baton Rouge, and "Facebook is blowing up with people writing on his wall."

    LOST: Lt. Cmdr. George McKenzie, who heads an Australian navy group that provides technical assistance to the Marshall Islands Sea Patrol, said Saturday that the country’s patrol vessel “Lomor” was diverted from a trip to the northern islands to begin searching for the small boat on Saturday afternoon. By nightfall, however, the “Lomor” had not spotted the small boat. The government’s airline was to dispatch one of its two planes to begin searching at first light on Sunday and “Lomor” will continue searching, Nimoto said. Boats travel the short ocean distance between Arno and Majuro on a daily basis, bringing passengers, fish and other cargo into the capital. “We will see what the Coast Guard can provide on Sunday,” Nimoto said. Earlier this week, the Coast Guard concluded an unsuccessful weeklong search for a fisherman on a 12-foot outrigger canoe who was lost two weeks ago at Ailinglaplap Atoll in the central Marshall Islands. “The canoe washed up on the ocean side of Majuro on Thursday,” Nimoto said. “The canoe was positively identified as the one lost at Ailinglaplap.” It is about 180 miles between the two atolls. There was no sign of the 50-year-old fisherman who had been on board and who is believed to have drowned.

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