Search underway for mariner who departed Hilo on Feb. 9


The U.S. Coast Guard is coordinating the search for a mariner in distress aboard a 24-foot sailboat located approximately 944 miles northeast of the Hawaiian islands.

At 8:47 a.m., watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from a concerned friend that the vessel’s owner, Rimas Meleshyus, transmitted a text via satellite stating, “I lost my life raft, in danger now,” according to the U.S. Coast Guard, Fourteenth District in Honolulu.

Meleshyus departed Hilo on Feb. 9 on a solo voyage to San Francisco aboard his vessel Pier Pressure, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Attempts have been made to establish communications with Meleshyus via cell phone, computer and satellite device, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

At 10:32 a.m., an HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu was diverted from a training mission and sent to the vessel’s last known position. Cutter Kukui, a 225-foot buoy tender ported in Honolulu, was also diverted to assist in the search.

U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders have identified two vessels in the area. The Liberia-flagged tanker ship Athens Star and Bahama-flagged carrier ship Lapis Arrow have diverted to assist.

The Coast Guard also requested, through the Federal Aviation Administration, that aircraft passing through the area remain alert for any signs of distress.

Weather conditions at the last known position of the Pier Pressure are gale force winds and seas of 20 feet.