April 17, 2008 — The U.S. Coast Guard is searching at sea for Phillip Fredericks, 45, and his 27-foot fishing boat Don Chepo. He left St. John Monday but didn't arrive as expected Tuesday on Vieques, Puerto Rico, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said Thursday.
"He does that run every week," Castrodad said of Frederick's St. John to Vieques trip.
Castrodad said the Coast Guard office in San Juan received a call at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday that Fredericks was overdue.
When Fredericks left St. John, the region had a weather disturbance overhead that brought rain and heavy clouds to the area. The weather was so bad at times that Seaborne Airlines canceled flights between St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The 27-foot Don Chepo is a fiberglass and wood vessel with a blue hull and is powered by two 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard engines.
Castrodad said Fredericks' roommate reported him missing. He told the Coast Guard that Fredericks had three life vests, a VHF radio, three flares and two cellular phones aboard the fishing vessel.
A St. John resident who asked not to be named said that Fredericks hails from Frederiksted, St. Croix, but spends a lot of time fishing off St. John. She said that Fredericks often sells fish near the Nature's Nook building, located across from the Creek in Cruz Bay, St. John.
"He keeps his boat by the Customs House," she said, referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Cruz Bay.
According to a statement from the Coast Guard, crews began searching the waters Wednesday from St. John west to and around Vieques using a Florida-based HC-130 Hercules aircraft and a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico. The Coast Guard conducted five searches spanning approximately 2,483 square nautical miles.
The Coast Guard is currently broadcasting an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast notice over VHF radio requesting mariners to keep a lookout for the missing fisherman, render assistance if needed and report sightings to the Coast Guard.
People with information on the missing fishermen should call the Coast Guard at 787-289-2041.
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