Coast Guard searching off Wilmington after radio beacon alert, fishing gear, debris found

Some of the debris found by a helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City on Feb. 11, 2020. [photo courtesy USCG]

The Coast Guard is searching for a possible missing vessel after being alerted by an unregistered emergency position indicating radio beacon and finding debris approximately 126 miles southeast of Wilmington.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard District Five command center in Portsmouth, Virginia received the distress alert Tuesday at approximately 11 a.m.

An enhanced group calling alert was issued, and aircrews launched aboard an HC-130 Hercules airplane and a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City.

Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton was also diverted to search the area, and Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System vessels agreed to search the area as well.

Once on scene, aircrews spotted netting, floats and other debris in the area. The Coast Guard said there had been no confirmed reports of missing vessels as of Tuesday afternoon.

[photo courtesy USCG]

“We take EPIRB notifications very seriously and this combination with debris is an indication of possible distress,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Scott Dempsey, watchstander during the case.

“Anyone in the boating or fishing community who has information that can assist the search may call the District Five command center at 757-398-6231,” Dempsey said.

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