Multiagency Search Locates Missing Fisherman Adrift and Out of Gas Off the Big Island

A fisherman is safe ashore after his vessel ran out of gas and he spent the night adrift off the coast of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Wednesday.

Lost Fishermen
At 6:11 p.m. Wednesday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received a report from Hawaii Fire Department that a man was overdue from a fishing trip.

The fisherman was last seen Wednesday afternoon on his 17-foot fishing boat approximately 40 miles west of Kailua-Kona near a NOAA data buoy.

Watchstanders created a probable search area based on the limited available information and launched an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point at 10:20 p.m. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, an 87-foot patrol boat, was also dispatched from its home-port in Honolulu.

The Hercules crew dropped two self-locating datum marker buoys to better calculate the probable drift of the vessel and to refine the search area using the search and rescue optimal planning system, a computer program which factors in numerous variables to give responders a better chance of finding someone lost at sea.

At 1:20 a.m., the Hercules airplane crew spotted a boat within the area of interest nine miles west of Kailua-Kona with an individual waving his arms to get their attention. The Hercules circled the boat until Kittiwake arrived at 4 a.m. to take the vessel in tow.

Kittiwake safely transferred the passenger and vessel to a Hawaii County Fire Department rescue boat who continued the tow to Keauhou Marina.

“We are thankful that the C-130 and Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake were able to locate the fisherman,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Bendle, search and rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “It was a team effort that spanned multiple units including our partners at the Hawaii County Fire Department who searched the shorelines last night ultimately completing the tow and safely delivering the man to his family this morning.”

The fisherman was wearing a lifejacket, but was not equipped with other essential safety equipment such as a working VHF radio, flares and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Mariners should also file a float plan, which can provide critical information to first responders on where to search. Individuals should always stay with their vessel, even if capsized, as it improves their chance of being located.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to remain aware of their vessel’s fuel capacity and other limitations while operating offshore of the Hawaiian Islands, especially during times of severe weather and high surf.

For more information on boating safety, visit

For more information, contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu public affairs officer at (808) 842-2657.

If additional imagery becomes available, it will be published in an updated release.


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