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Military coordinating effort to help sailboat battered by hurricanes off Hawaii

The Coast Guard is coordinating the rescue of 42-foot sailboat Walkabout caught in Hurricane Julio 414 miles northeast of Oahu, Aug. 10, 2014. Walkabout is disabled and taking on water with three people aboard.

HONOLULU — The Air Force Reserve and Hawaii Coast Guard combined forces Sunday in an effort to rescue three people stranded on a disabled sailboat being battered by 92 to 115 mph winds and 30-foot seas from Hurricane Julio.

RELATED: More coverage of Pacific storms at Stars and Stripes' Pacific Storm Tracker blog

One of the hatches on the 42-foot Walkabout blew away, as did its life raft, and onboard bilge pumps were unable to keep pace with flooding, a Coast Guard statement said. The boat was about 414 miles north of Oahu.

At 7:15 a.m., the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Texas that an alert message was received from Walkabout requesting Coast Guard assistance.

In response, the Coast Guard diverted a “hurricane hunter” plane, Teal 76, from inside Hurricane Julio to locate the vessel and establish VHF radio communications. Operated by the Mississippi-based Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the plane had been flying missions through hurricanes Iselle and Julio since Tuesday. At 10:49 a.m., Teal 76 reported mayday calls from Walkabout.

An HC-130 Hercules crew launched from Air Station Barbers Point at 11:10 a.m. to deliver a life raft and relieve Teal 76.

After a two-hour transit, the Hercules crew arrived on scene and dropped dewatering equipment and life rafts to Walkabout’s occupants, but they were unable to retrieve the gear due to the rough conditions.

The Hercules returned to Oahu because of fuel limitations.

A second Hercules arrived at 7 p.m. and was to remain in the area until 661-foot Matson container ship Manukai arrives.

JRCC is receiving hourly position updates of the Walkabout from a Delorm device aboard the boat.

olson.wyatt@stripes.com
 

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