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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, April 26, 2002

Captain hopes to reunite with pet

See video of the Coast Guard locating the Insiko 1907 and Forgea. Forgea is seen running from right to left in the beginning of the black and white portion of the clip.

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Forgea is fast becoming the most famous dog since Benji, but the canine's owner said yesterday that the stranded pooch is camera-shy and may be avoiding rescuers.

"Forgea is a shy dog," said ship's captain Chung Chin Po, who was rescued April 2 along with 10 crewmen from the disabled Indonesian tanker Insiko 1907. His pet, Forgea, was left behind.

But Chung said in an interview yesterday from Taiwan that he is confident that his dog is alive and he believes he knows where Forgea is.

"I think Forgea may be hiding in the storage cabinet at the front of the hull," Chung said through interpreter Karl Kao. Chung said that's where the crew slept after the fire. "When he sees a stranger, he runs away immediately. But if he knows a person well, then he will play with the person all day long."

Forgea was first spotted Saturday when the crew of a Coast Guard C-130 found the Insiko drifting 255 miles east of Johnston Atoll. Crew members dropped some of their lunch on the Insiko's deck and videotaped Forgea.

Because the tanker is loaded with diesel fuel and lube oil, the Coast Guard has hired a

tugboat to ensure that the Insiko won't run aground at Johnston Atoll. The tug is expected to reach the Insiko sometime tomorrow and secure the vessel.

The refueling tanker caught fire March 13 and its 11 crew members were adrift until they were picked up by the cruise ship Norwegian Star. Also still on the burned-out tanker is the body of a crew member who was killed in the fire.

The tug's crew also will be setting humane traps in an attempt to capture Forgea before the vessel is taken out to sea and sunk. If the traps fail, the humane society will send two animal care experts to Johnston to try and retrieve Forgea.

Chung believes that the retrieval effort will succeed and he thanked the humane society and the many people who showed concern for his dog. Chung also thanked the captain and crew of the Norwegian Star and said miscommunication caused Forgea to be left behind.

"It was a communication error that the rescue boat did not want me to carry Forgea on board," Chung said. "When I arrived (on the Norwegian Star), I did not mention Forgea. If the captain understood me during the rescue mission, they will definitely help him to get Forgea."

Fishermen boarded the Insiko on Sunday but were unable to catch Forgea. They later lost sight of the dog and the Coast Guard also was unable to see Forgea during another fly-over Wednesday.

Chung said he would like to get Forgea back, but is busy preparing a new tanker. If his dog is rescued, he has asked a friend in Honolulu, Michael Kuo, to take care of Forgea.

Chung doesn't know when he will be reunited with Forgea, but he said the new tanker under his command will be making refueling stops in Hawai'i. He hopes to pick up Forgea the first chance that he gets.

The name of the new tanker?