An extensive and active search and rescue operation involving the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), Operation Bahamas Turks & Caicos (OPBAT), the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), and the US Coast Guard was suspended on August 21, 2023, pending new information.
The search was initiated when the RBDF Operations Command Center received a report on the evening of August 19 regarding a twin Cessna (C402) aircraft that had departed from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport en route to North Eleuthera, carrying a 70-year-old male passenger. The aircraft was last sighted by Fort Lauderdale towers, positioned 18 nautical miles northeast of Bimini.
On the morning of August 20, OPBAT conducted an initial aerial search for several hours. RBDF surface assets, namely the HMBS Kamalamee and the RBDF Harbour Patrol Unit Safe boat, were deployed to the last known location. Additionally, USCG, RBDF, and RBPF aircraft participated in aerial searches. All deployed assets reported negative sightings of the overdue aircraft.
Subsequent investigations by BASRA revealed that the overdue aircraft had not landed at any of the major airports in the northern and central Bahamas. OPBAT continued its search efforts near the aircraft’s last known position from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM on August 20. Despite challenging weather conditions, search operations persisted into the afternoon of August 21, 2023. Regrettably, both aerial and surface assets were unsuccessful in yielding any results.
The Commander Defence Force is committed to fostering collaboration between the RBDF, local law enforcement agencies and regional partners. Through joint operations and proactive information sharing, these strategic alliances serve as force multipliers.
The RBDF is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in guarding our heritage. We are committed to upholding the highest standards as we protect and preserve the rich legacy that defines our nation.