The 69th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron, assigned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and good samaritans aboard the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System vessel Isl Star, rescued eight mariners aboard the 60-foot Indonesian-flagged fishing vessel KM Aleluya (previously reported as Hallelujar) approximately 172 miles northwest of Palau, Aug. 13, 2019.
According to Lt. Col. Dennis Zabka, 69th EBS commander, this was a great example of teamwork and shows why it is extremely important to continue to have a strong partnership with our sister services in a joint environment.
The B-52 Stratofortress took off early in the morning after Andersen AFB was notified of the distressed boat late in the evening. Upon entering the last known position of the boat and the designated search location, the vessel was spotted approximately two hours later.
The crew of the KM Aleluya was adrift for 10 days without electricity, food, and water. News of their predicament reached responders from the crew of the Japanese fishing vessel Kinsei Maru No.3 who rescued a KM Aleluya mariner. When the KM Aleluya crew saw the KinseiMaruNo.3’s lights on the horizon, they launched the motorboat with one man aboard to seek help.
The crew of the Kinsei Maru No. 3 subsequently searched for the KM Aleluya but could not locate the vessel and departed due to worsening weather conditions. The rescued mariner stated there were no injuries or significant medical concerns among the KM Aleluya’s crew.
Along with the B-52 from Andersen, Sector Guam watchstanders (Guam U.S. Coast Guardsmen) issued a broadcast seeking the assistance of any mariners in the area and diverted the crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska (WPB 1336) from Palau and a HC-130 Hercules from Pohnpei to assist in the search.
Sector Guam watchstanders were also able to contact the crew of the AMVER vessel Isl Star who agreed to assist in the search. Once the Hercules aircrew arrived on the scene, they quickly located the KM Aleluya and dropped supplies to the crew. They then coordinated with the crew from the Isl Star who rescued the mariners without further incident.
“Our Bomber presence in the Pacific is a central component of how we demonstrate commitment and provide assurance to our allies and partners in the Pacific,” said Col. Joseph Sheffield, 36th Operations Group commander. “This specific search and rescue mission also highlights our desire to be good neighbors and assist in a myriad of missions whenever and wherever possible. The success of this search and rescue effort was the direct result of a long-term commitment to joint service partnership in planning, training, and employing across a variety of missions throughout the Pacific.”