A U.S. Navy MH-60 Knighthawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 rescues three divers off the coast of Agat, Guam, Oct. 28, 2023.

A U.S. Navy MH-60 Knighthawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 rescues three divers off the coast of Agat, Guam, Oct. 28, 2023. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Three divers were rescued by a team of U.S. Coast Guard and naval aviators over the weekend after they went missing near Santa Rosa Banks off Guam’s southwestern coast.

The unnamed divers were plucked from the water at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, 25 nautical miles off Agat, in a MH-60 Knighthawk by members of Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, the Coast Guard said in a news release Monday.

The men were found several miles from their charter boat, the statement said. There were no injuries reported.

“This successful rescue underscores the exceptional skills and dedication of our search and rescue teams,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Christine Igisomar said in the release. “Their swift efforts, combined with the crucial aviation support, played a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of these divers.”

First responders from Guam’s Joint Rescue Sub-Center received a distress call from the charter operator at approximately 1 p.m. that three divers had failed to surface two hours earlier, the statement said. The experienced male divers entered the water south of Guam wearing bright T-shirts with diving lights and emergency flotation equipment.

They planned to surface together in the event of problems, the release said.

An underwater current pushed the group about 1,200 feet from the charter boat, so they were not spotted when they surfaced, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sara Muir, a spokeswoman for U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia, Sector Guam, said by email Wednesday. She referred further questions to the Navy.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Katie Koenig, a spokeswoman for Joint Region Marianas, referred Stars and Stripes to squadron spokeswoman Lt. Junior Grade Zoey Mau, who did not immediately respond to an emailed request for more information.

The search team found the men using search patterns that took into account the day’s “favorable” weather conditions of 13 mph easterly winds and 3-foot swells, according to the release.

After being hoisted from the water, the men were taken to U.S. Naval Hospital Guam as a precaution.

The Coast Guard operates nine rescue coordination centers at various geographic locations across the U.S., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website said. They also have two, called sub-centers, in U.S. territories Puerto Rico and Guam.

In addition to the Knighthawk, members of a Coast Guard sub center and a 45-foot response boat from the station at Apra Harbor also participated in the rescue, according to the release.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.

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