Guam – The body of a Merchant Mariner was sighted Monday, but recovery efforts to retrieve his body were suspended Monday night.
The mariner was aboard the Maritime Prepositioning Force Ship USNS MAJ Stephen W. Pless (T-AK 3007) which was operating off the coast of Guam.
The Mariner fell over-board Sunday, February 27th, at approximately 6:20 p.m. local time. He fell into the sea from the bridge wing of the ship.
Monday afternoon, the Navy reported that the body had been located, about 2 pm Monday afternoon. But because of rough seas, it had not been recovered. However the Navy said the recovery efforts were still ongoing.
Then at 8 pm Monday, another release from Navy Lt. Jodie Cornell briefly stated: “They have suspended the search.” The second release did not indicate whether the search would resume Tuesday.
The rescue effort began Sunday evening, according to the Navy’s release. When the Captain was notified of the incident he immediately initiated “man overboard” procedures and began a search of the area. Two lighted life rings and orange smoke flares were quickly deployed.The ship attempted to launch two lifeboats into the water, but due to poor weather and heavy seas, that effort was suspended Sunday night.
However, a Guam-based MH-60S “Sea Knight” helicopter arrived on scene at approximately 7:40 pm Sunday to assist with the search and rescue effort. At 9:50 pm Sunday, the helicopter’s crew sighted the Mariner in the water, but due to continued bad weather in the area, the Mariner could not be recovered.
Pless is crewed by 26 merchant mariners working for Waterman Steamship Corp, a private company under contract to MSC.
The incident is currently under investigation.