March 31, 2010

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press

Pohnpei, FSM-Dr. Aminis David and his crewmember Swiper Oliver did not return for weigh in at the end of a day of fishing in a Pohnpei Fishing Club tournament held on Saturday, March 27. David and Oliver left the Pohnpei Harbor at approximately 7:15 that morning and had not returned by sunset that night.

David and his crewmember were last seen by other fishermen competing in the tournament in waters off of Ant Atoll, southwest of Pohnpei.

Pilot Alex Tretnoff of Caroline Islands Air took to the sky to perform an evening search of the water in that area in the hope that the fishermen would have a flashlight by which they could signal to him as he flew over but according to members of the fishing club he did not spot any beacons of any kind.

Seven boat owners met at 6:30 on the morning of Sunday, March 28 to coordinate their own search efforts. Seas were rough and the weather was threatening, even potentially dangerous but volunteers took to the sea to search the surrounding waters and the islands of Ant and Pakin.

Meanwhile Tretnoff once again took to the skies to conduct an aerial search for the lost men until rain hampered visibility. When rains cleared in the early afternoon he continued his search.

Pohnpei's Emergency Disaster Coordinator Dais Lorrin contacted the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance.

The Marine Surveillance Vessel FSS Micronesia was dispatched by FSM National Police Chief Pius Chotailug who was reached by Australia's Marine Surveillance Advisors just as he was ready to board a plane to return to Pohnpei from Honiara, Solomon Islands. The vessel was instructed to patrol the same area that Fishing Club members were searching. The Micronesia returned to Pohnpei Harbor on Sunday evening after dark.

No one had spotted any sign of the missing fishermen by the close of their second day at sea.

According to members of the Pohnpei Fishing Club, the U.S. Coast Guard approved of the search method that had been utilized by the end of Sunday.

The Coast Guard's analysis of ocean currents led them to suggest that waters further south of Pohnpei should be searched beginning on Monday morning.

If weather cooperates, Alex Tretnoff will be taking off in the early morning hours to search southern Pohnpei waters.

A U.S. Coast Guard plane from Guam will also search those waters beginning midmorning on Monday.

The USS Micronesia has also been dispatched.

At press time Dr. David and his crewmember Swiper Oliver had not yet been found.