Search suspended for Australian man who went overboard from cruise ship en route to Hawaii

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The search for an Australian man who fell overboard from a cruise ship in a remote area of ​​the Pacific has been suspended for the day, after a US Coast Guard plane ran out of fuel.

A passenger went to sea from Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas before 11:00 pm Tuesday night local time, two days before arriving in Honolulu. The vessel left Brisbane on 12 April and was approximately 900km south of Hawaii at the time of the accident.

The vessel launched a search and rescue operation which lasted two hours. The US Coast Guard received the report from Royal Caribbean at 1 a.m. Hawaii time and launched a Hercules aircraft at 7 a.m. Wednesday, which reached the search area at 9 a.m.

Honolulu-based 14th District Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Fisher said the Hercules was the only asset on the scene conducting a search.

The aircraft completed five pattern searches, which involved tracking drift patterns in the ocean using tracker beacons, but was unable to find the man.

With six hours of fuel, the plane finished its search at 3:00 p.m. local time, Fisher said. The search will resume the following morning.

No other aircraft were available to continue the search, including the US Navy, which was contacted, Fisher said. The Coast Guard has issued an urgent call to any vessels in the area that may be able to help.

Fisher confirmed the Australian went to sea 500 nautical miles (926 km) south of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Georgina Thompson, a passenger aboard the Quantum of the Seas, said she and her husband were in bed when they heard “Oscar Oscar Oscar” – Royal Caribbean’s distress code for man overboard.

Thompson told Nine’s Today Show that she and her husband then went out on deck to see the lights and the lifeboats deployed, but didn’t know what was going on at the time.

“The light began searching along the exterior of the ship, shining along the exterior all the way to the bottom. We were watching it. She lit up the whole ocean. Well, most of the ocean. But it was very dark.

“You just knew something was wrong.”

Thompson said her husband thought the ship had stopped because it hit something, “but then we realized there was someone overboard.”

The mood at breakfast the next morning, he said, was “very gloomy”.

Two travel bloggers aboard Quantum of the Seas shared on Instagram that they heard the vessel veer shortly after 11pm and an announcement was made for passengers to return to their staterooms and ensure all attendees were present.

They said a final announcement was made at 12:30 that the ship would reopen and passengers would be able to vacate their cabins.

Gale Doyle, another passenger, told ABC News he knew “Oscar Oscar Oscar” calls meant a person was overboard because he traveled a lot.

“Eventually they started calling one person’s name, it was a boy. They called the person’s name several times, so we assumed this person was the missing person,” Doyle said.

Passengers had not heard from the man the next morning, he said.

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