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Press Release | April 29, 2024

FSM partners conduct successful SAR operation on the heels of exercise with U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam

SANTA RITA, Guam — Partners in Pohnpei State, Federated States of Micronesia, successfully concluded a search and rescue (SAR) operation for an overdue vessel off Pohnpei on April 25, 2024, demonstrating the value of recent enhancements in regional SAR capabilities and coordination.

This operation coincided closely with the Federated States of Micronesia SAR Exercise 2024, held from April 15-16 in Chuuk and April 18 in Pohnpei. The exercise involved comprehensive seminars and functional drills designed to strengthen SAR response across the region. Key components of the training included SAR system fundamentals, alerting procedures, communications, and a SAR OPS software demonstration, alongside an overdue vessel check sheet exercise.

Participants included the Chuuk State Department of Public Safety—Fire and Rescue, Chuuk Disaster Coordination Office, Pohnpei State Division of Fire and Emergency Services, Pohnpei Division of Fish and Wildlife, and support from the deployed U.S. Coast Guard team.

The recent SAR mission began when U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-Center Guam watchstanders received notification shortly before 1 a.m. from the Pohnpei State SAR liaison that a 23-foot fishing skiff with three people aboard was overdue from a fishing trip. The vessel, easily identifiable by its orange hull and white canopy, had been expected back the previous evening.

Under the coordination of JRSC Guam, the team assumed SAR mission coordination responsibilities and launched a comprehensive SAR operation. This included issuing a Safety Net broadcast to all mariners in the area and contacting neighboring regions. The recent training in Pohnpei proved valuable, as local responders promptly mobilized, demonstrating enhanced readiness and communication protocols recently practiced.

"The successful resolution of this SAR case so soon after our training in Pohnpei illustrates the direct impact of our engagement efforts. The communication was excellent. It's gratifying to see our partners utilize the training and coordination skills effectively in real-world scenarios," said Lt. Henry Dunphy, the Emergency Management and Forces Readiness chief at CGFM/SEC Guam and the command duty officer for the case.

The SAR liaison in Pohnpei reported that the overdue boaters returned safely, confirming the successful outcome of this SAR operation at around 7 a.m. He extended his gratitude to JRSC Guam for their swift assistance, which played a crucial role in ensuring the safety of the missing persons.

Future Engagements and Continuous Improvement
"The success of this SAR operation is a testament to the effectiveness of the recent SAR exercises conducted in Chuuk and Pohnpei," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. "Our commitment as a good partner is not just about responding to crises but also about building the capacity of our regional partners. These exercises and real-life SAR operations enhance our collective ability to save lives."

The CGFM/SEC Guam team, led by Lt. Kira Adams, the Joint Rescue Sub-Center chief; Lt. Chelsea Garcia, the enforcement chief, and SAR mission coordinator; and Lt. Dunphy, remain committed to continuous improvement in SAR operations and the ongoing development of regional SAR capabilities.

These efforts build upon annual exercises in FSM conducted with partners from the FSM Maritime Wing, Fire and Rescue services, and Pohnpei Department of Public Safety from Dec. 4 to 7, 2023, in Pohnpei, and the Chuuk Department of Public Safety in Weno and Udot, the Chuuk Disaster Emergency Operations Center, the Chuuk Fire Division, and the Weno Municipal Police in Weno from Feb. 20 to 23, 2023.


About U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam
The U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam team focuses on maritime safety, security, and stewardship in Oceania. With a primary presence in Guam and Saipan and over 300 members across Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the team maintains a strong U.S. presence in the Micronesia sub-region and adjacent areas, closely tied to local communities.