Coast Guard Conducts Fishing Boat Search and Rescue Exercise in Hawaii

An Air Station Barbers Point MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew retrieves a mannequin representing the missing person during a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) on the Island of Hawaii in 2022. U.S. Coast Guard file photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

U.S. Coast Guard and Kauai, Hawaii agency personnel conducted a search-and-rescue exercise (SAREX) off Kauai’s coast on March 29. The exercise simulated a multi-agency response to the report of an overdue fishing vessel that failed to return to shore.

The open-water exercise was held from 9 a.m. to noon, ending with the vessel being located.

“The general scenario (was) an overdue vessel that didn’t make it back,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Elhajj, the officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Kauai, explained. “This scenario allows all the county, state, local, federal and (the) Coast Guard to practice search and rescue.”

As part of the exercise, an incident command post was set up at Kukuiula Small Boat Harbor and the participants coordinated the on-scene assets while testing communication systems and strategies between the partners.

In addition to the Coast Guard, agencies participating in the exercise included the Kauai Emergency Management Agency, Kauai Fire Department, Kauai Police Department, Kauai Ocean Safety Bureau, Civil Air Patrol and Kauai Search and Rescue K-9 Team.

Additionally, volunteers with Kauai Search and Rescue, an organization dedicated to training and education, conducted a practice shoreline search and areas in the water near shore.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu holds search-and-rescue exercises bi-annually throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They’re designed to evaluate notification and response procedures and identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of response.