Float Plan Saved the Day

The simple act of filing a float plan saved a group of 15 people who were rescued July 22 from a remote, uninhabited atoll in the Pacific Ocean by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Assateague. Lt. Connie Braesch posted an account of the rescue the same day on the service's Compass blog.

The nine adults and six children left on their 28-foot skiff from Chuuk State to Ruo Island in the Federated States of Micronesia but did not arrive as planned, and a major search began immediately because someone ashore notified authorities.

"Filing of a float plan with family or friends should be a part of every boater's routine," said Leif Wigman-Nilsson, a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Guam, said in Braesch's report. "In this case, the concerned parties ashore were well aware of when this vessel was to depart, when it was to arrive, and the route that it was taking. This information was key to getting the Coast Guard and other rescue agencies into the right place at the right time to effect this rescue."

The search lasted more than 76 hours and covered more than 18,000 miles. Their overturned boat finally was found near an island located about 8 miles from their original destination, and all of the castaways were found safe and in good health.

Commercial ships, local boaters, and international partners joined an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, Hawaii and a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion search aircraft in the search.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Jul 25, 2011