US Coast Guard Halts ‘Missing’ Boat Search, 4 Passengers Detained

November 23, 2021Carl Prine
overdue fishing boat

The US Coast Guard cutter Joseph Doyle searched for an overdue fishing boat off Puerto Rico on Nov. 22, 2021, that would later be located ashore. This is the San Juan-based cutter on Oct. 24, 2020, when it transferred custody of four suspected smugglers and 50 kilograms of seized cocaine to Caribbean Corridor Strike Force federal agents at Sector San Juan. US Coast Guard photo.

The US Coast Guard halted a Monday, Nov. 22, search for an overdue fishing boat after the vessel was found ashore on Puerto Rico and federal agents had nabbed four of its passengers.

Agency watchstanders on San Juan, Puerto Rico, were informed by local 911 dispatchers that three men never returned from a fishing excursion that departed the town of Loíza, and their craft was disabled and flooding with seawater.

The Coast Guard scrambled an MH-60T Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, plus the 154-foot fast response cutter Joseph Doyle and a 45-foot response boat from San Juan. They were soon joined by an HC-130J Super Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft from Air Station Clearwater in Florida.

They began hunting for a 20-foot blue and white boat in Atlantic waters, roughly 20 nautical miles north of Vega Baja and Dorado, Puerto Rico. And then they called everything off.

US Coast Guard San Juan Puerto Rico
A Coast Guard Boat Station San Juan crew transferred custody of three men and $3.75 million in seized cocaine on Nov. 1, 2021, to federal agents in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Cutter Donald Horsley’s crew seized 125 kilograms of cocaine after interdicting a drug smuggling go-fast vessel three days earlier in Atlantic waters. US Coast Guard photo.

US Border Patrol agents detained four unnamed men after their vessel was discovered ashore near Punta Salina in Toa Baja, northern Puerto Rico. A Border Patrol probe into the nationalities of the detainees continues, officials said.

“Given the predominant harsh weather conditions that exist in the waters surrounding Puerto Rico, these men are extremely fortunate,” said Cmdr. Beau Powers, Sector San Juan chief of response, in a prepared statement emailed to Coffee or Die Magazine. “This vessel was not equipped with adequate life-saving equipment and the situation nearly resulted in a tragedy. The Coast Guard appreciates the support and diligence of the U.S. Border Patrol in their efforts to help us resolve this case.”

Read Next: Alaska SAR Alarm: Daring Coast Guard Rescue Saves 4 Mariners

Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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