Fresh team searches for missing mariner
Chinese friends vow to ‘seize even slightest chance’ of finding sailor
Ten days after the United States suspended its search for Guo Chuan, a record-breaking Chinese sailor who went missing while attempting a solo crossing of the Pacific Ocean, Guo’s friends and relatives sent out a new rescue team by air on Sunday.
Led by a former US Navy SEAL commander, the plane, a Gulfstream 3, with a team of seven experienced professionals in maritime rescue and survival, departed from Hawaii’s main island of Oahu at about 3 am Beijing time on Sunday. They plan to search every island around the area where Guo last made contact with his support team, vowing to “seize even the slightest chance” of finding him, according to Richard Xie, who helped secure a suitable aircraft and assemble the team.
The latest rescue effort was initiated and sponsored by the two alumni associations of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Peking University, where Guo spent his undergraduate and master’s degree years. Experts in oceanography, meteorology and navigation joined the team.
“Guo Chuan, hold up. I knowit’s hard for you. It’s hard for us, too. You’ve got to make it. We’re rushing to save you. Come on!” said Hao Guangqi, chief coordinator of the rescue attempt and Guo’s college classmate.
Guo made his last satellite call at 3 pm on Oct 25 Beijing time, then disappeared. His boat, Qingdao China, a 29.7-meter-long French-made trimaran, was later found unmanned 900 nautical miles off the west coast of Hawaii. Guo was attempting to break a world record for a solo trans-Pacific voyage.
What exactly happened remains unknown. Some experts speculated that Guo might have been thrown from the boat when he was dealing with a mainsail. The US dispatched a plane and two Navy ships to search for him, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
“We were still talking as usual the day before he went missing. He told me the sky was so blue and the water so beautiful. I could tell he was in a very good mood,” said Sun Ping, a cousin who has taken care of Guo since he entered college.
Sun spent a day aboard the boat with Guo in San Francisco on Oct 15, watching him prepare for any circumstance, including unexpected danger, as she did every time Guo went out sailing.
“He seemed very well prepared and relaxed. He showed me every move,” Sun recalled. “The news was like a thunderbolt to me.”
As the first Chinese to sail around the globe alone, Guo held two world records: the 40-foot solo nonstop circumnavigation world record (138 days in 2013), and the Arctic Ocean Northeast Passage nonstop sailing world record (12 days 3 hours in 2015). Guo is married, with two sons. The youngest is 4 years old.
A rescue team of seven maritime experts led by a former US Navy SEAL commander departed from Hawaii’s main island of Oahu on Sunday to search for Guo Chuan.