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US Coast Guard suspends search for missing Chinese mariner Guo Chuan

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-10-27 17:10

LOS ANGELES - The US Coast Guard said that they have suspended the active search on Wednesday evening for missing Chinese mariner Guo Chuan, who lost contact while sailing his 97-foot super trimaran on a solo trans-Pacific voyage.

The 51-year-old Chinese sailor "was a professional mariner with a deep passion for sailing," Capt. Robert Hendrickson, chief of response for the US Coast Guard 14th District said in a statement. "Our deepest condolences go out not only to his family and friends but also to his racing team and the sailing community."

According to the US Coast Guard, an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, sent from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, conducted six search patterns in the vicinity of the trimaran. The USS Makin Island deployed a Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter on Wednesday once they were in range to attempt contact with Guo. Their hails over the radio went unanswered and weather conditions prevented safe deployment of a rescue swimmer to the vessel.

They followed up by deploying a rigid-hulled inflatable boat and crew to conduct a boarding of the trimaran Wednesday afternoon. The boatcrew confirmed Guo was not on the vessel although his life jacket remains aboard.

The 'Qingdao China' remains adrift, the mainsail has been doused and the vessel has been marked. A broadcast notice to mariners alerting vessel crews in the area to the potential hazard to navigation has been issued. Chuan's racing team is making arrangements to recover the vessel.

Weather conditions on the scene reportedly included 23 mph winds, waters cresting at 5-feet with good visibility and scattered clouds. On-scene assets searched a total area of more than 4,600 square miles over a two-day period, the US Coast Guard said.

Videos from the scene showed an HC-130 Hercules airplane overflying the super trimaran while searching for Guo Chuan on Tuesday.

A spokesman for China's consulate-general in Los Angeles told Xinhua, "since being informed in Tuesday evening, we have been in close contact with US authorities and rescue teams both in US and China, urging for greater efforts in the search and rescue."

Tuesday morning, watch standers at the US Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu, Hawaii, received notification from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China personnel that the vessel, 'Qingdao China,' with one person aboard, had not been heard from for over 24 hours.

According to the US Coast Guard, the 97-foot super trimaran 'Qingdao China' is actively transmitting on an automatic identification system which showed the vessel's position at the time 620 miles northwest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Guo set sail on his trimaran near the US city of San Francisco, embarking on a solo voyage to the Chinese city of Shanghai. He was last heard just after 15:00 Tuesday Beijing time when his trimaran sailed 500 nautical miles off the west of Hawaii, his support team said.

The Chinese sailor aiming to set a new solo non-stop trans-Pacific world record, piloted the 'Qingdao China' west across the starting line under San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

He had been in constant contact with MRCC China and his family while on the voyage and was not likely to miss scheduled calls, the Coast Guard said.

Guo is regarded as a very experienced sailor and was reportedly in good health. He had a world record to his name for a 138-day solo non-stop circumnavigation. His journey covers about 13,000 km in length and under normal conditions would be completed within 20 days.

He told a Xinhua reporter in an earlier interview that the greatest fear for a sailor was to fall in the water.

The current trans-Pacific speed record is 21 days, set by crews on board the Italian Maserati.

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