On Nov. 11, crewmembers assigned to the “Tridents” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 rescued six mariners from the Federated States of Micronesia whose vessel was adrift in the South Pacific for eight days without power.
The 23-foot skiff was first reported missing November 3 after it lost power and was overdue near Oneop Atoll, Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia. The crew of FSS Micronesia, multiple Coast Guard assets and local civilian volunteers searched for the vessel for several days before requesting assistance from the U.S. Navy.
The “Trident” aircrew and maintenance team were tasked to support the search and rescue (SAR) mission, responding on short notice traveling from Kadena Air Base, Japan to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. VP-26 operates the Navy’s newest maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, which is equipped with an advanced APY-10 multifunction radar, MX-20 camera system, and other systems which make it ideal for detecting a small vessel. The disabled vessel was located after almost four days of searching the open ocean by utilizing the advanced radar and sensors to their maximum capacity.
Upon location, the aircrew elected to deploy a UNI-PAC II SAR kit in order to provide the occupants with necessary supplies for survival and location. The SAR kit includes medical supplies, food, water, shelter and signaling equipment, but can be configured with additional supplies depending on the mission type.
The six survivors were subsequently rescued by the FSS Micronesia after being located by the Trident aircrew.
“It was incredibly rewarding to be able to help save six lives and ensure they made it home safely to their families and friends,” said Lt. Alex Shaffer, mission commander and aircraft commander of the VP-26 aircrew. “We once again successfully demonstrated the capability of the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft community to react quickly and effectively to operational requirements in the farthest corners of the globe. None of this could have been possible without the tireless effort and support from the maintenance crew, aircrew, combat support crew, and partners on station.”
VP -26, based out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is currently operating from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The squadron conducts maritime patrol and reconnaissance as well as theater outreach operations as part of a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.