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USCG Suspends Search for Missing Pilots

Cessna 172 Presumed Downed in Caribbean

The United States Coast Guard has suspended the search for two occupants of an overdue Cessna 172 Skyhawk last seen Friday, 04 August between the islands of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Culebra, Puerto Rico.

The search for 33-year-old Carl Frederick Reichard Stubbe and 19-year-old Oswald Fuentes Roman was called off at 18:00 Atlantic Standard Time (Zulu -4) on Monday, 07 August 2023.

Officials from the Center of Radar Approach Control (CERAP) notified U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders at approximately 21:30 AST Friday that radar-contact with the Cessna 172 had been lost six-statute-miles west of St. Thomas.

Coast Guard watchstanders ordered the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Borinquen and a Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas rescue crew to search the area in which the aircraft was feared downed.

The missing aircraft departed Aguadilla, Puerto Rico’s Rafael Hernandez Airport (BQN) intending to make a round-robin flight with a practice approach in St. Thomas.      

Coast Guard Sector San Juan commander Captain Jose Diaz stated: “Suspending search efforts is one the hardest decisions to be made, but after saturating the search area with no signs of the downed aircraft, I've suspended the Coast Guard search pending further developments.”

Captain Diaz added: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing passengers during this difficult time.”

Rescue crews searched an area spanning approximately 6,387-square miles over a combined total 45-hours. The search was undertaken by rescue crews of: Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, Coast Guard Cutter Confidence, Coast Guard Station San Juan, Coast Guard Auxiliary Air, Civil Air Patrol, Puerto Rico Police Department Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA), Coast Guard Boat Forces Detachment St. Thomas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB).

Parties with information germane to the missing Cessna or the whereabouts of Messrs. Reichard-Stubbe and/or Fuentes-Roman are asked to contact Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center at (787) 289-2041.

Created by Congress as the Revenue-Marine on 04 August 1790, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is the oldest continuously operating naval service of the United States. The Semper Paratus (Always Ready) motto to which the Coast Guard aspires speaks to the outfit’s ethos and the nature of its humanitarian and security missions.

Stated simply, the Coast Guard protects the United States' borders and defends her sovereignty by safeguarding sea lines of communication and commerce across 95,000-miles of U.S. coastline and the entirety of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. This critical work is carried out by 44,500 active-duty personnel, 7,000 reservists, and 8,577 full-time civilian employees.

The USCG’s fleet of roughly 250 coastal and ocean-going cutters, patrol ships, buoy tenders, tugs, and icebreakers; as well as nearly two-thousand small boats and specialized craft constitutes the world’s 12th largest naval force. The service’s aviation division comprises north of two-hundred helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft the likes of the AC-37A (Gulfstream V), HC-144A (Airbus CN-235), and Lockheed’s mighty HC-130 Hercules utility turboprop transport. To supplement the aforementioned and better support its homeland security and search & rescue operations, the Coast Guard is building an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program around General Atomics’ MQ-9 Reaper platform.

In its humanitarian capacity, the U.S. Coast Guard saves tens-of-thousands of lives every year and provides emergency response and disaster management for all manner of man-made emergencies, meteorological exigencies, and outright natural disasters.

FMI: www.uscg.mil

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