US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

AMO P-3 Crew Locates Lost Costa Rican Fishing Vessel

Release Date: 
October 3, 2019

Three rescued after four days adrift in West Caribbean Sea

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A P-3 aircrew from Air and Marine Operations is credited with saving three Costa Rican fishermen stranded aboard a disabled fishing vessel drifting in the vast open waters of the Western Caribbean Sea. Sept. 24

Three fisherman were adrift in the Western Caribbean Sea
Three fishermen were adrift for four days in the vast open waters of
the Western Caribbean Sea before a CBP AMO crew spotted them
leading to their rescue.

The three fishermen had been adrift for four days, out of food and water and near death when rescued.

The Corpus Christi-based aircrew aboard a Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft was operating in the Western Caribbean Sea searching for drug smugglers when a radar operator noticed a small return on the screen. It was when the aircraft approached the target, that the aircrew saw three people aboard a small fishing vessel. When the fishermen saw the aircraft, they began waving their arms and using a signal mirror to hail the aircraft.

The aircrew then coordinated their rescue with the U.S. Coast Guard and within several hours, a USCG ship approached and deployed a helicopter and small boat to pick up the fishermen. The Coast Guard rendered first aid and then transferred the crewmembers to Costa Rican authorities who transported them to Limon, their home port.

“This is one of the reasons we enjoy what we do,” said Deputy Director of Air and Marine Operations Scott Peterson. “Although we’re out there looking for people smuggling large loads of illegal narcotics, we’re glad we were there for those fishermen in their time of need.”

Air and Marine P-3 aircraft
The crew of  P-3 Orion Long Range
Tracker from the National Air Security
Operations Center - Corpus Christi is
credited with saving three Costa Rican
fishermen lost at sea.

When rescued, the fishermen said they left port early the morning of Sept. 21 for a short fishing trip when their single-engine boat became disabled. They continued to drift eastward over the next four days. By Sept. 23, they were out of food, water, and had lost any hope of rescue.

The National Air Security Operations Center—Corpus Christi is a division of Air and Marine Operations and operates the Lockheed P-3 Orion conducting counterdrug patrol missions over the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Together with the National Air Security Operations Center in Jacksonville, Florida, Customs and Border Protection P-3 crews seized or disrupted 261,939 pounds of cocaine in 2018.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations' mission is to serve and protect the American people. It applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs its unique skill sets to preserve America’s security interests. With 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, Air and Marine Operations uses its sophisticated fleets to detect, sort, intercept, track and apprehend criminals in diverse environments at and beyond U.S. borders

Last modified: 
October 3, 2019