Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Forces join together for a Search and Rescue mission

    GUAM 02.26.2023
    Story by Senior Airman Christa Anderson
    U.S. Air National Guard 119th Wing Public Affairs

    SANTA RITA, Guam — U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and others worked together to conduct a search and rescue (SAR) mission for a missing man in early February. The search and rescue mission began on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, when the Coast Guard received a mayday call for a 42-foot vessel with three people on board. The call revealed the vessel, Senior Dung, located between Rota and Guam, was taking on water. The caller reported three people on the vessel, and communication was lost while gathering information from the caller.

    Watchstanders began the search and rescue mission immediately by directing the launch of a Station Apra Harbor 45-foot Response Boat-Medium rescue crew. They also requested support from Guam Fire Department. As the search continued, a Guam Army National Guard UH-72 Lakota helicopter crew, HC-130s attached to the U.S. Air Force 36th Airlift Squadron, and the U.S Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point joined the search. The Lakota crew's efforts led directly to the rescue of the two survivors.

    The U.S. Coast Guard then requested assistance from the U.S. Air Force 36th Operations Group located at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, during Cope North 23. They sought fixed-wing aircraft for aerial asset coverage and were made aware of the MQ-9 Reaper’s capabilities.

    “We heard about the capabilities of the MQ-9, which range from a low altitude ability to search all the way up to about 40,000 feet and the wider range of being able to find things in the water,” said Lt. Kira Adams, the command center chief at the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Joint Rescue Sub-Center.

    When the team learned of the MQ-9’s capabilities they requested assistance from the U.S. Air Force, through U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, to utilize the MQ-9 Reaper in the search and rescue mission.

    U.S. Air Force 119th and 132nd Wings responded to the search and rescue tasking while participating in Cope North at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

    “While participating in Cope North, our crews were tasked real world with the United States Coast Guard for search and rescue. We had to pivot our mission planning and conduct real-world operations working with the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Capt. Brant Archer, an MQ-9 pilot liaison officer of the U.S. Air Force 132nd Wing out of Des Moines, Iowa. “We were able to integrate ourselves within the U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam, Joint Rescue Sub-Center command to provide the needed feedback and coordination, with the Mission Control Element conducting the mission stateside. We were able to coordinate with other assets including the Australians, France, and Coast Guard assets on the ground and the air to coordinate scans to search the area we were assigned effectively.”

    Integration is one of the main focuses of Cope North, and it was an essential piece of coordination in completing the real-world search and rescue mission.

    “The rescue effort was no small coordination feat with various aircraft types across multiple government and military agencies including, a French CASA CN-235, U.S. Marine Corps C-130 Herc, and U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper”, said Ben Calman, a C-27 aircraft flight lieutenant of the Royal Australian Air Force.

    “We had four different aircraft from four different militaries all working together and passing communication to support the mission,” said Calman

    Shortly before the Royal Australian Air Force C-27 crew departed to begin their search area they conducted a brief aboard the C-27 with U.S. Air Force 119th Wing, Major Nicholas Hanson, the MQ-9 detachment commanding officer, from Fargo, North Dakota. The brief enabled crews to unite and coordinate, utilizing each force's assets to complete the mission.
    “The ability to be able to brief a different crew, from a different country, in an unfamiliar airframe working a real-world SAR mission is a first,” said Hanson. “The quick brief and coordination by the liaison officers and crews stateside led to seamless integration with the Royal Australian Air Force, other assets, and the U.S. Coast Guard. That is the definition of interoperability in a joint environment. It was truly amazing to see other countries working together in such unison supporting the U.S. Coast Guard SAR efforts on such short notice.”

    The combined team conducted more than 26 search patterns over more than 96 hours, saturating an area of more than 7,566 square nautical miles. The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the active search for the missing mariner from the vessel Senior Dung at sunset on Feb. 12.

    "Suspending search efforts without locating everyone in a case is never easy, and our condolences go out to the family and friends of the third mariner," said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam.

    The U.S. Coast Guard was grateful for the military crews that jumped in to help in the SAR mission. And when they received a 406 Beacon alert about a week later, they quickly reached out again for assistance.

    On Feb. 17, U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received notification of a 406 beacon in the Federated States of Micronesia. Further investigation with the registered owner of the beacon revealed two traditional canoes with 15 men aboard had departed Satawal a week earlier to fish.

    “We were unsure if they were in need because one of their personal locator beacons had been going off, which usually signals that someone is in distress,” said Adams. “The beacon stopped going off, and we had no assets that were in the region to be able to help us. We again asked the MQ-9 Reaper team if they were available and would be willing to support the Search and rescue mission.”
    Shortly after being activated the MQ-9 team provided positive identification of the missing vessels and sent the exact coordinates to the U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders.
    “Within 30 minutes of being on station, we located the canoe and the 15 individuals,” said Capt. Tim Kuhn, an MQ-9 pilot, U.S. Air Force 119th Wing, from Fargo, North Dakota.
    The MQ-9 team provided full motion video to the U.S. Coast Guard, which gave them real-time situational awareness.

    “Within minutes of being on scene, they were able to identify where those missing vessels were and that the 15 individuals were safe,” said Adams. “That's a capability we would not have been able to without them. We are extremely appreciative of all the teams involved in the search and rescue cases for this last week. We have the expertise to gather people and their units and assets and conduct this mission as a team together.”

    The MQ-9 Reaper team and participating multinational aircraft crews were available to assist in the SAR missions due to being in Guam for U.S. Pacific Air Forces’ Cope North 2023. Cope North is the largest multilateral U.S. Pacific Air Forces field training focused on trilateral airborne integration for large-force employment, agile combat employment, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training from Feb. 8 to 24.



    Date Taken: 02.26.2023
    Date Posted: 02.27.2023 18:10
    Story ID: 439199
    Location: GU

    Web Views: 962
    Downloads: 0