Crew of fishing boat has close call off PMRF

A fishing boat crew apparently didn’t know they were in a live fire zone off the Pacific Missile Range Facility Wednesday morning.

No one was injured, but PMRF is postponing other live exercises until next Wednesday and Navy Region Hawai’i at Pearl Harbor concludes security and operations investigations.

PMRF published a “Notice to Mariners” warning notice about the exercise that is accessible from the U.S. Coast Guard and from harbor captains, according to Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell, Navy Region Hawai’i spokeswoman.

Prior to starting the exercise, ship personnel checked the surface radar both from the ship and from shore, as well as making a visual sweep by helicopter.

At about 7:30 a.m., the ship broadcast a radio message over Channel 16, the channel that all vessels should monitor, Campbell said. The USS Lake Erie was positioned within the live fire designated area and announced that the exercise would commence.

The 28-30 foot vessel the Navy believes to be the “Jamie Elizabeth,” based out of O’ahu, entered into the area after the message went over the air, Campbell said. A report found that the boat’s crew did not respond to the message.

It was found that the ship did have a radio, which was used to call the ship only after the exercise started and shots were fired.

Due to heightened security measures at the base, vessels are required to stay at least a mile offshore, according to base security. The exact locations of the Jamie Elizabeth and USS Lake Erie were not given.

The Navy is examining their advance notification processes, Campbell said. Meanwhile, PMRF is observing a standard seven-day stand-down with no live fire exercises. Navy Region Hawai’i is conducting a full investigation, to include ship procedures and procedures at PMRF.

“It reinforces the fact that it’s the absolute essential thing that all mariners check all notices and don’t just go out without insuring that the course they intend to steer is not in the middle of a live fire range,” Campbell added.

The owner or operators of the Jamie Elizabeth were not able to be contacted, as the information was not accessible at press time.

Information about public access to the base and hazardous training operations is available by calling 335-4229.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at mailto:kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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