A VHF mayday call was received at about 4:29 p.m. from the vessel crew, who were aggressively fighting the fire. Sector Honolulu sent out an alert to other vessels in the area and directed the launch of a response boat, the cutter JOSEPH GERCZAK, an HC-130 Hercules SAR airplane, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.
The seven people aboard the F/V Miss Emma were forced to abandon ship via a liferaft. The U.S. Coast Guard was able to rescue everyone within half an hour of receiving the mayday call. The crewmembers and the NOAA fisheries observer were taken to Pier 38 in Honolulu where they were met by first responders, medical personnel, and officials from Customs and Border Protection. No injuries were reported.
“We are so pleased to have this crew safe in less than an hour after the initial call,” said Lt. j.g. Seth Gross, command duty officer, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center. “The quick action of this crew, coupled with our training, made all the difference.”
The U.S. Coast Guard remained on the scene after the rescue to monitor the F/V MISS EMMA, which remained ablaze and adrift. The boat burned throughout the night and subsequently sank at 7:22 a.m. in 2,700 feet of water. Pollution responders were on hand at sunrise but found no visible signs of fuel or debris. The vessel was reported to have been carrying about 1500 gallons of fuel, which is believed to have been consumed by the fire.
“We’re pleased there was no loss of life in this case, and there are no current reports of pollution,” said Lt. j.g. Gross, “We will conduct another overflight of the area today, and Coast Guard personnel are investigating the cause of the fire.”
Weather at the scene was reported as 3 feet seas and variable winds.