'Being prepared' saved 8 Hawaii fishermen aboard vessel that sank

HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - They had planned for the worst — and when it came, they were ready.

Eight crew members of "The Princess Hawaii" are safe after the commercial fishing vessel sank about 400 miles north of Hawaii Island.

"They used all their survival equipment correctly," said Lt. Tim Lae, command duty officer at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center.

When Coast Guard crews arrived late Sunday afternoon, the boat's bow was all that remained above water. In a nearby life raft was the captain of the Princess Hawaii, six crew members and a NOAA observer.

Loc Nguyen, the captain of the boat, said his crew was setting gear when the boat was swamped by a rogue wave. The crew sent out the emergency alert about 11:30 a.m.

"Because the EPIRB was properly registered, we were able to contact the vessel owner and confirm it was indeed offshore fishing and we could triangulate that location using the satellite," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Levasseur.

Five hours after the distress call, a rescue crew in a C-130 spotted a flare that directed them to the life raft. After everyone was accounted for, the Coast Guard contacted a sister ship fishing 20 miles away. The boat's crew picked up the survivors.

Just last month the Princess Hawaii was boarded by the Coast Guard, passing its inspection with no safety violations.

"Because they did have the proper safety equipment. Their EPIRB was registered, they did have the life rafts. It's undoubtedly resulted in a successful case," said Levasseur.

A Coast Guard investigation into exactly what happened continues.

In the meantime, the owner said everyone who was on aboard the Hawaii Princess is doing well and that they should be back in port by way of that sister ship by the end of the week.

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