Two missing, 16 rescued from burning car carrier

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(HONOLULU) — Coast Guard, Navy and good Samaritans aboard two merchant vessels continue the search Tuesday for two crew from the ship Sincerity Ace following a fire 1,800 nautical miles (2,071 statute miles) northwest of Oahu.

“We are thankful for the assistance the crews of these merchant vessels have given us during this event significantly reducing possible response time,” said Lt. Duane Zitta, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “Their quick actions provided for the rescue of 16 members of the crew who would otherwise still be in the water and are continuing to aid us.”

Good Samaritans aboard four merchant vessels rescued 16 of the 21 crew Monday. Three of the five missing mariners reportedly were located but remain in the water as they are unresponsive and unable to grab onto life-saving equipment to be brought aboard. Search efforts are focused on the two remaining potential survivors in a search area of 5,832 square nautical miles (6,711 square statute miles).

An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules air crew has re-deployed from Wake Island, following mandatory crew rest, to assist in the search and the crews of M/V New Century 1 and Genco Augustus are actively searching the area. JRCC Honolulu watch standers are continuing to identify merchant vessels in the area able to respond and assist.

The merchant vessel crews and a Navy 7th Fleet P-8 Poseidon air crew continued to search overnight for the unaccounted-for members. The crew of Green Lake, SM Eagle, and Venus Spirit have resumed their voyages.

Sincerity Ace is a Panamanian-flagged car carrier and was on a voyage from Japan to Hawaii. Green Lake is a 655-foot U.S.-flagged car carrier traveling from Japan to the U.S. mainland. SM Eagle is a 968-foot Panamanian-flagged LNG tanker on a voyage from the U.S. mainland to Korea.

Weather conditions on scene are reported as 15- to 18-foot seas and winds at 17 mph with reduced white caps improving visibility.

Involved in the search to date:

– Two Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules air crews
– A Navy 7th Fleet P-8 Poseidon air crew
– Crew of M/V Green Lake
– Crew of SM Eagle
– Crew of M/V New Century 1
– Crew of M/V Venus Spirit
– Crew of M/V Genco Augustus

The owners of Sincerity Ace are coordinating with the merchant vessels for the transport of the rescued mariners. Sincerity Ace is currently adrift on the high seas. A salvage plan is being formalized and commercial tugs have been dispatched by the company.

JRCC Honolulu received the initial notification from JRCC Japan at 1:04 a.m. Monday of the situation. Watch standers in Honolulu immediately issued a SafetyNet broadcast requesting the assistance of vessels in the area and directed the launch of the Hercules air crews from Air Station Barbers Point. The master of Sincerity Ace reported a significant vessel fire, ongoing firefighting efforts, and an intent to abandon ship.

The commercial vessels involved are part of the AMVER, or Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to people in distress at sea.

By Professional Mariner Staff