Guo Chuan, Lost at Sea
Published on October 27th, 2016
The Coast Guard suspended the active search Wednesday evening (Oct 26) for Chinese sailor Guo Chuan, 51, who was trying to establish a record for sailing across the Pacific alone.
Sailing the 97-foot trimaran Quindao China, Chuan left San Francisco on October 18 in an attempt to set the first solo non-stop trans-Pacific world record between San Francisco and Shanghai, a distance his team stated as 7000nm.
Guo’s goal was to better the current speed record of 21 days, set by Giovanni Soldini and his crew on board the turboed VO70 Maserati in 2015.
Tuesday morning, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu received notification from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China personnel that the vessel Qingdao China, with one person aboard, had not been heard from for 24 hours prompting the response.
The Qingdao China was actively transmitting on an automatic identification system which showed the vessel’s position at the time 620 miles northwest of Oahu.
Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules crews conducted six search patterns in the vicinity of the Quindao China and its charted course following notification of the situation Tuesday and into Wednesday. The USS Makin Island deployed an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter Wednesday once they were in range to attempt contact with Chuan.
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 Chuan was not on the vessel although his life jacket remains aboard.
“Mr. Chuan was a professional mariner with a deep passion for sailing,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, chief of response, Coast Guard 14th District. “Our thanks to our Navy partners who helped us search for this vessel in a timely manner so far from shore in an attempt to locate Mr. Chuan. Our deepest condolences go out not only to his family and friends but also to his racing team and the sailing community.”
Weather on scene was reportedly 23 mph winds, seas to 5-feet with good visibility and scattered clouds. On-scene assets searched a total area of more than 4,600 square miles over the two-day period.
Involved in the search were:
– HC-130 Hercules airplane crews from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point
– USS Makin Island (LHD 8) homeported out of San Diego
– Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crew attached to the USS Makin Island
Chuan was the first Chinese to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008-09 when he was the onboard reporter with Irish-Chinese entry Green Dragon. Chuan was also the first Chinese person to sail solo around the world when he completed the circumnavigation in 2013 on a Class40. In 2015, Chuan led a crew through the North East Passage on the Qingdao China to set a new benchmark time for the 3240 nm Murmansk to Bering Strait via the Northern Sea Route.
The Quindao 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.
The Makin Island is an amphibious assault ship attached to the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit that departed Naval Station San Diego for a scheduled deployment, Oct. 14, to provide maritime security operations, crisis response capability, theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the Pacific.