The Coast Guard is searching for what may be a person in the water due south of Newport, RI, Sunday.
At about about 8:50 a.m., a local fishing vessel notified authorities of a unmanned adrift 8-foot red kayak and nearby paddle in the vicinity of Gooseberry Island.
A Newport Fire Department crewmember notified Coast Guard watchstanders who immediately sent out a urgent marine broadcast and launched a 45-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Castle Hill, as well as a MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew from Air Station Cape Cod to search the area. There have been no sightings of a person in the water nor missing person reports. There is no identifying information on the kayak to contact the owner directly.
“If we could reach out to the owners, we could more easily confirm if someone is distress or not,” said Chief Warrant Officer James Deal, a Sector Sector Southeastern New England watchstander. “Because we can’t, we have to assume someone may be in trouble,” he said.
He said the Coast Guard provides “if-found” stickers for paddle craft owners to write their contact information on. “At a minimum, a name and phone number written in permanent marker would be helpful in these types of searches,” he said.
The hourly expense of operating a Jayhawk helicopter is roughly $11,000 and a Motor Lifeboat is estimated at nearly $3,000 per hour.
Anyone with correlating information about a missing paddler in the area or the kayak described are urged to contact Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England watchstanders at (508) 457-3211.