Charter fishing vessel sinks off the coast of Maui

Six fishermen are safe after their vessel began taking on water and sank approximately two miles off the coast of Kahoolawe, Maui, Monday.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders received a radio call from the captain of the 43-foot charter fishing vessel Piper at 12 p.m. The captain reported the vessel was sinking and passengers were putting on lifejackets. The six people aboard the Piper abandoned ship into a life raft.

A crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Coast Guard Station Maui was launched. Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast over VHF marine radio channel 16 to notify other vessels in the area of the emergency and the need for immediate assistance. The crew aboard the recreational vessel Misti III responded and rescued the passengers and crew. The Misti III transported the six survivors to Ma’alaea Harbor where emergency medical services met them. No serious injuries were reported.

The vessel sank in approximately 1,200 feet of water and has an unspecified amount of diesel fuel aboard. The Coast Guard will continue to monitor the situation for any evidence of pollution or debris from the vessel. No pollution is currently visible. The sinking is under investigation and is being treated as a serious marine incident by the Coast Guard.

Mariners are reminded to have all required safety equipment aboard their vessels. Marine incidents can occur quickly and without warning. In this instance, a marine VHF radio, lifejackets and a life raft played critical roles in ensuring the survival of the passengers and crew of the Piper.

“This is a great example of why it is important to have all of the required safety gear aboard your vessel,” said Cmdr. Steve Wheeler, Sector Honolulu chief of response. “By having the required lifesaving equipment aboard the captain ensured the safety of his passengers and prevented an unnecessary loss of life.”

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