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Joshua and Tadsana Devine: This is not a search, it's sight-seeing

Phuket Search for Missing Diver Abandoned: This is Not a Search, This is Sight-Seeing, Says Wife

Monday, April 13, 2015
PHUKET: A Thai Marine Police vessel and a dinghy abandoned the search this morning for an American diver who vanished from a dive boat off Phuket early on Saturday.

''This not a search,'' Tadsana Devine, wife of the missing man, Joshua Michael Devine, 36, said today. ''This is sight-seeing.

''I called the Marine Police today, expecting to get an update. But they told me they were returning to shore to take care of holidaymakers.''

With thousands of locals and tourists turning out today to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year festival, the Marine Police vessel returned to Phuket to patrol the coast, a senior Marine Police officer confirmed.

No aerial search has been mounted. The Marine Police and the dinghy have been the only vessels involved in the official search.

Hope is fading for Mr Devine, a former soldier in the US Army who now works in IT in Kuwait for the US military.

He and Tadsana boarded the dive liveaboard Chontara I at midnight on Friday on Phuket, looking forward to a break similar to a trip to the Similan islands they took three years ago.

Khun Tadsana said she went to bed and her husband stayed drinking with two newly-made male friends.

Sometime around 4am, Mr Devine's absence was noted. The captain was alerted and a thorough search of the dive boat failed to find Mr Devine.

He had appeared agitated earlier while drinking and at one stage, according to the two newly-made friends, asked to be alone.

''They told me they left Josh in the equipment room on the boat for 10 minutes,'' Khun Tadsana said. ''When they returned, Josh could not be found.''

Khun Tadsana said she and her husband - they married in 2010 - were looking forward to spending several days diving. A total of 24 people were on board the liveaboard.

The Superintendent of the Phuket Marine Police, Colonel Phanya Chaichana, told Phuketwan today: ''We searched yesterday around the spot where Mr Devine is believed to have gone overboard, 18 miles off Bang Tao beach.

''A dinghy containing members of the Kusoldharm Foundation [a rescue group] searched with us.

''We found no sign of the missing man.''

Thousands of additional Thais and tourists have flocked to Phuket and the Andaman coast to celebrate Songkran, so the Marine Police search is at an end.

Colonel Phanya said he would ask the Royal Thai Navy whether their vessels could take up the search.

Khun Tadsana said that she intended to return to Pattaya on Wednesday then fly back to Kuwait on April 17.

When the Dive Asia liveaboard capsized off Phuket in 2009, 23 people scrambled into liferafts. Seven people went down with the vessel.

The liferafts drifted and drifted. Eventually, survivors hailed a fishing trawler, and used the captain's telephone to call in their own rescue.

The searchers were looking in another part of the Andaman. No aerial search had been mounted.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Strange decision of the dive liveaboard boat Chontara 1 owned by Chontara Beach Diving Liveaboard (CTR) which prefered to go diving to Similan; instead to participate to research.

With the GPS, Chontara was able to go back exactly on the same route where Joshua were lost.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on April 13, 2015 11:12


They left him for 10 minutes and they came back and he was gone.

Doesn't sound suspicious and underhanded at all.

Posted by Tbs on April 13, 2015 12:45


I would have thought the dive boat would have cancelled it's diving and joined the search. Like too many things in Phuket the focus is on money rather than morality, some people here have forgotten morality completely. I hope he is found alive.

Posted by Welcome To Paradise on April 13, 2015 12:54


The Captain of Chontra 1 decided not to search for the missing man, a person for whom he had a degree of responsibility.
This is unacceptable

Posted by Paul on April 13, 2015 13:36

Editor Comment:

We understand the boat circled the area between 4am and noon, when the Marine Police arrived and took off the missing man's wife.


If that was my spouse, you would have had to kill me to move that boat. I would not have let them leave that place until the police arrived. This looks like a homicide. Why wasn't the passengers detained and questioned?

Posted by Mad-Man on April 13, 2015 14:47


One would think being a huge tourist resort Marine 5 would have far more resources apparently one patrol vessel and a dinghy is the best they can muster
we have all been critical of Marine 5 I had no idea they were so under resourced the dive boat company apparently have adopted the not our problem attitude poor effort all round more negative publicity for Phuket which Marine 5 for one could certainly do without.

Posted by slickmelb on April 13, 2015 17:41

Editor Comment:

Marine Office 5 and the Marine Police are two separate and quite distinct organisations.


Please come home safe Josh. My thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.

Posted by Michelle on April 13, 2015 18:35


His family is frantic and frustrated. The officials have been of no help (Thai and US). They waited too long to report him missing and then everyone goes on holiday.

Posted by Cynthia T on April 13, 2015 19:11


In fairness to the officials, the reality is a swarm of tourists are descending on Phuket (and all of Thailand). They have a responsibility to maintain safety and security for everyone. Diving and boating involves risks. When you mix any activity with drinking, that compounds the risks. Exactly how much safety and security for thousands of others needs to be sacrificed to look for one person, who, through a series of decisions, accepted the risks?

Posted by Anonymous on April 13, 2015 20:34

Editor Comment:

International codes would dictate what should be done in these circumstances. We would welcome an explanation from someone who understands the international protocol on 'Man overboard.' Guesses are not wanted.


"Guesses are not wanted."

Really? A rhetorical question intended to encourage thought is not a guess. Most forums are open discussions, but for what its worth, you have no idea what my background is, so maybe you shouldn't "guess" about my qualifications to opine. Unless they were in international waters (there is nothing in the article saying they were) Thai law, not Sea Law, will dictate the priorities of how Thai authorities exercise their duties. Regardless, they have limited resources and competing obligations. Maybe you could call the local authorities and tell them you think they aren't following "international codes".

Posted by Anonymous on April 14, 2015 00:35

Editor Comment:

Anonymous comments have no value.


I also very concerned whether Search And Rescue has been conducted in a timely and efficient manner:

assuming that information that the man has been noticed missing from the storage room around 4am, and that captain made the first call to Marine Police roughly 6 hours later, around 10am, was precise:

first thing, what other passengers obviously did is to look for the missing person on the boat - it actually takes minutes;
then immediately notify the captain - then probably the boat will be searched again, still matter of minutes;
then , as person became missing at unknown point, is not not within visibility, the captain normally should IMMEDIATELY notify professional SAR - and further coordinate with them all next steps.

That is what IAMSAR Manual (International Aeronautical and Marine Search And Rescue Manual) Volume III Mobile Facilities deals with Man OverBoard(MOB) situations:

"Person Overboard
Three Situations
3. Person-missing action The person is reported to the bridge as missing.

Ship Maneuvers
When the possibility exists that a person has fallen overboard, the crew must attempt to recover the individual as soon as possible"

"In the event of an un witnessed MOB, ..., Distress Call must be made. "


Even during daylight if a passenger fallen off the boat at unknown point, it is impossible to search for him with a boat as there are always some waves in the open sea, that obstruct clear view of the sea surface beyond quite a short distance.
The only mean to conduct search, is by helicopter.
And a helicopter IS available for SAR both for Phuket and Phang Nga Andaman coast - with cooperation with military for search, or there is a medevac one too.
The captain should have upon realizing that one passenger is missing, immediately take a record of the current position and the direction during period at which person became missing - in order to report it to SAR, who would calculate quite precisely what area should searched , and changes of its boundaries over the time - every hour this area becomes only larger.

From the IAMSAR Manual:

"Initial Action
Sound three prolonged blast of ship's whistle, hail "Person Overboard".
Note position, wind speed & direction, time.
Stand by the engines.

Normally, a helicopter for conducting search should be deployed there right upon sunrise, and the boat would be given instruction where to sail, to follow search trail of helicopter - in order to pick up a floating person when the helicopter notice him.
There is no other way as to search with helicopter for missing person. No speedboat or whatever would be able to cross ever increasing from initially few square kilometers to tens share kilometers , to cover say every narrow segment for clear sea surface visibility.

Every country in the world - who is in possession of SAR helicopters - deploys such helicopters when passenger became missing in the open sea, at unknown point beyond visibility from the boat.

it seems there was very poor judgement by the captain , who is in charge to take such decision, to delay calling of Marine Police for 6 hours, and it is unclear whether it was just by negligence, or willfully (to be afraid that SAR costs will be invoiced to the boat? ).
It is well known that helicopters are available, so they had to be requested.

However, why Marine Police didn't call for a helicopter, while it is available for such cases, also warrants closer attention, with a similar listing of possible reasons behind it.

This SAR greatly failed, as searching by boats of a wide area for a person missing in an open sea, could not bring result.
It is extremely important to start SAR as soon as possible upon detecting a person is missing - here on sunrise,6:00-6:30AM, but with methods that could bring result : a helicopter for a search, followed by the boat for a rescue.
Providing there is no hazardous sea conditions - there were none of such - chances to take a close look around the whole area within an hour or two, then chances of success are much much higher than if only begin to do it at 10AM.

Yes, passengers regularly falling off boats, sometimes even during daytime it stays unnoticed for some time, but then they are searched with helicopters.

There is no specific written protocols in Thailand how captains should conduct in such particular situation, but with general sense of logic and a will to resolve situation positively , SAR should have been conducted in very different manner.

What happened is very appalling and such a shame, that the industry on Phuket earns huge amount of money on various kinds of boat trips, diving trips, liveaboards, who also generates large tax receipts for a government, and this actually brings to Phuket tourist a message that there is no efficient SAR on Phuket as it is failing on so many levels here.

Posted by Sue on April 14, 2015 02:56

Editor Comment:

We would certainly be interested in an accurate record of what took place and when.


Mr Editor, I sent a comment, explaning the international Man overboard protocol. Point is that a thai boatdriver of a live aboard dive boat is not trained or have knowledge of the international regulated procedure in this case. Everything is local doing ( many times without thinking).

Posted by Kurt on April 14, 2015 07:37

Editor Comment:

If you stuck to the facts and did not speculate, you might get published more often, Kurt. No point in guesswork.You have no idea whether the crew on this boat have been trained or not.


Well, Mr Editor, the head line of this by you written article contents a saying: 'This is not a search, this is sight seeing, says wife'.(moderated)

Posted by Kurt on April 14, 2015 08:27

Editor Comment:

The headline is a quote taken directly from someone who knows what they are talking about. Your comment is by an anonymous person with no involvement. Confine yourself to comments that do not jump to conclusions, or don't comment.


"You have no idea whether the crew on this boat have been trained or not."

As someone from the industry I can assure you they have not been trained.

Posted by stevenl on April 14, 2015 09:37

Editor Comment:

Unless you have had direct experience with this crew, that's a comment you have no right to make. Being from the industry only makes you more likely to make false assumptions.


"Unless you have had direct experience with this crew, that's a comment you have no right to make".
Ah, so knowledge is not allowed to be spread?

Posted by stevenl on April 14, 2015 09:59

Editor Comment:

This is not about me or even about you, stevenl. That's something you have problems understanding. This is about determining what actually happened on board this boat. You know nothing about that. Why not just wait until you have some facts? I know you find that hard, but believe me, you won't be allowed to speculate or guess, no matter how much you think you ''know.'' Others would be wise to do the same. Being ''in the industry'' does not equip you with miraculous insight.


To the editor - thank u for being considerate based on the fact(s) there are so many unknowns.

As a VERY close family member, I also thank those who have provided protocols and have tried to put information into perspective.

There are other details that have not been released that are being pursued!

Thank you!!!

Posted by No words on April 14, 2015 11:24


"Anonymous comments have no value."

...but you do value comments from people with names like "Whistle-blower", tbs, and "welcome to paradise"? If they have no value, why do you allow them? You, the "editor" (real name not provided, have access to our email addresses, so they aren't so anonymous after all, are they?

I don't get it, you welcome readers to "have your say" and then attack them when they participate.

After working in a SAR organization for 4 years, the SAR manual posted is a guide for easy adoption by organizations without the resources to create their own. There is no legal mandate to force a country or specific authorities to follow those procedures. Helos cost at least US$400 an hour to operate, and probably considerably more depending on the type of aircraft. Even a C-172 in Thailand cost over THB7000 per hour, not including the pilot fees. You simply can't force people with limited resources to do more than they are capable of doing.

Look at your own headlines: drownings, boating accidents, and terrorism. Authorities have responsibility to everyone, and they have to make decisions based on available resources and liklihood of success.

Posted by Anonymous on April 14, 2015 15:07

Editor Comment:

The people whose online names you mention have developed personas over the years and i have their email addresses.

No-names are a problem. It's not possible for other readers to distinguish one nameless person from the next and in my experience, no-names make stuff up deliberately. I am well aware of our headlines. We are committed to making the Andaman coast a safer place for residents and visitors. Sadly, despite the huge amounts of cash invested in tourism, there is no SAR chopper. There should be. The point we keep making is that Phuket is no longer third-world. It's an international destination, a cashed-up, prosperous place, and it really is time international standards were applied. The key money-wasters are scams and corruption. Tourists pay for all the scams and most of the corruption. Get rid of the corruption and that cash could put a large number of choppers into the air - every time. As one reader has pointed out, knowledge of the precise route taken by the vessel would give rescuers an excellent change of success . . . if action had been taken in a timely fashion.


As I know Josh was a seasoned diver and instructor at that as well would surely have Dive accident insurance through the Divers Alert Network (DAN) which would cover some cost of a search and rescue event. It might be a good idea to contact DAN and find out. Wishing a positive out come for Josh and Family.

Posted by Brad Stanley on April 15, 2015 09:05

Editor Comment:

Search and rescue should not be a matter of whether the missing person is insured or not. Fact is, Thailand's governments invest almost nothing in tourism safety.


Yes it is not about the insurance, the Divers Alert Network is a resource that could have helped. Most PADI accredited dive establishments are actively involved with DAN.

Posted by Brad Stanley on April 15, 2015 12:53


Insurance is mandatory for all active PADI categories from Dive Master upwards. If Josh was an active instructor, he MUST have an insurance. Though the mandatory part mainly deals with liabilities, personal injury and recovery are also part of the package.

Every PADI professional has a unique ID# with which details regarding his PADI status, incl insurance coverage, can be verified.

It has been reported he had his training done at this dive shop operating the boat he went missing on so they will have his ID# in their files.

They could have and should have looked it up online the moment he went missing and notified the insurer.

DAN works with SOS international which can authorize proper action asap.

There are so many missteps here and the fact that he may or may not have been drunk has nothing to do with the blunders that took place after he went missing.

It's just adding insult to injury to imply since he was drunk, it was his own fault and we could not really bother to look in earnest either.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 13:22

Editor Comment:

Insurance is not the issue. This is about the region's ability to mount a prompt search and rescue mission, Herbert. Your mind is wandering again.


Mr Editor, I not go into speculation of anything, I stick to the facts. According your publishing the live aboard boat was leaving the scene at 7:00 AM ( after sunrise!) without being permitted by authorities ( SAR regulations!) to leave from the scene. A marine police boat just arrived at the scene at 10:00 AM, 3 hours later! It was that Marine police boat who could have forward the permission for the dive boat to leave the schene ( SAR). Khun Sue can teach you more about this. Seems before answering me you did not have time study Comment Sue in this matter. Everything you published about what the dive boat as well thai authorities were doing did not comply with SAR regulations! It was all wrong ( according your PW writings.) International laws at sea are a different issue from umbrellas at beaches, mr Editor. I not blame you, as you are a journalist, but there are people who know about this a bit more than you do. Be a bit kind, please, before you judge with your comment.

Posted by Kurt on April 15, 2015 13:29

Editor Comment:

You don't know whether the dive boat sought permission to leave the scene or not. You don't know whether permission was granted or not. There may be people who know more about this than I do, Kurt. But you are not one of them. I am not guessing who said what and when. Why are you?


SOS International has the financial resources, contacts and infrastructure to initiate a proper search.

They will use whatever means necessary, including private helicopter companies.

Insurance is very much relevant because then the whole responsibility to launch the search is shifted to professionals and victims are not stuck bickering with local authorities about what's more important - search for a person or being on standby (celebrating) Songkran.

Should the local authorities be in a position to conduct such searches without outside funding and resources ?

Absolutely. However since lack of both are often used as a reason not to, insurance would negate that excuse.


Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 13:46

Editor Comment:

Are you sure your ego is not at the controls, Herbert? You may put your faith in private insurers - I think it's International SOS not the other way around - but most people would prefer standard standby SAR. No insurance company can afford services that governments should provide.




Plenty of insurance companies "can afford" services that governments do not provide.

Here's one example for you

If you need more examples, look for them yourself. I don't work for PW.

I would certainly have more faith in a private insurance company than in the Thai authorities but that's irrelevant.

Point is a PADI professional has mandatory insurance and they should have been notified to at least find out if they can assist. I have seen no reports of such inquiries having been made.

On a EAP I would put together making contact with the insurer of the diver would be very high on the list.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 14:10

Editor Comment:

The issue is fast, effective SAR and it's a hard-sell to persuade me or anyone else that insurance is the answer. Are you being paid a commission? Money shouldn't matter in responding to save lives. Uninsured fishermen's lives are just as valuable, Herbert. Phuket needs a properly run SAR service, available to all. Your world seems much smaller, and narrower.


I'm not disagreeing with you on the SAR.

I'm simply making the point that not having contacted the insurance company is just another blunder in the long list of events that took (or didn't) place after he went missing.

In this particular case insurance is relevant but naturally it should not be the primary recourse when help is needed.

Sure money should not matter but you are usually quick to raise the issue of a developing nation not being able to afford necessary infrastructure to protect tourists.

So which one is it ?

For whatever reason, the search for Josh was conducted in a (moderated).

A question I hope local authorities will have to explain in detail.

Posted by Herbert on April 15, 2015 14:43

Editor Comment:

Do try to avoid defamation, Herbert. You can't say derogatory things without consequences.


If the resources to conduct a search are not available and on standby any amount of money, insurance or commitment to pay the search cost is a non issue.

Posted by Manowar on April 15, 2015 15:07


@ Manowar

Just because the local government may or may not have the equipment available does not mean such equipment does not exist.

Insurance companies have their own contacts and contractors which work independently of local government.

Plenty of private helicopter and aircraft charter companies in Thailand, not to mention the countless yacht charter options.

An insurance company can and often does initiate a search when government agencies fail to do so. And yes, money is very much the issue.

Posted by Herbert on April 16, 2015 11:12

Editor Comment:

Insurance is not relevant. This is about getting a full SAR operation underway as fast as possible, regardless of whether or not the people involved are insured. Please stick to the topic.


You seem fixated on burdening a rescue effort upon insurance companies.
An insurance company is just a financial organisation where members or policy holders pool funds based on assessed risk.
Based on risk, an insurance company issues a policy and the cost is $ X.
In managing these pooled funds, the IC expects to make a profit above operating expenses and the total of claims made during any period.
They don't have helicopters or rescue boats on standby nor any rescue personnel.They probably don't even care as each policy is just a reference number and if the actuaries have done their job correctly, they fully expect, on average, the total value of claims from policy holders.

They won't have private organisations who they can call on to assist in any particular location. This is not what they are involved in nor do they wish
to be.
They will not even become involved in any search. There is no 'man overboard. Quick call the insurance company'. They wouldn't even know where to start.

The only issue they will be involved with is once a claim has been submitted, they deal with and assess the value of the claim they carry.

Every emergency situation should go through a centralised command. The person in charge of that shift should be fully aware of what procedures are in place depending on the type of emergency and know what resources are available to assist. This may include government, local, volunteers or private contractors. The controller will then action a plan to deal with the situation using whatever he has available, define the search area and adjust the location of these resources based on the best available information.

Posted by Manowar on April 16, 2015 12:29


@ Manowar

Total BS.

They very much DO have private organizations to call. DAN works with SOS International and International SOS. Both private.

Furthermore if you had bothered to check the link I posted earlier, you'd see that for example ADAC has 4 Medivac airplanes on standby. For the benefit of their members who have purchased insurance that includes such services.

Since all active PADI members must have an insurance, especially in this case insurance is VERY much relevant.

You honestly don't think the family and relatives of Josh would not have wanted his insurance company contacted asap ?

DAN insurance packages, which PADI highly recommends their pro members sign up for, often cover search, rescue and recovery so it could not possibly be more relevant.

" Let's not call the insurance company because there SHOULD be proper SAR (but isn't) "

Really ?

Posted by Herbert on April 16, 2015 13:03

Editor Comment:

Totally irrelevant. The article is not about diving insurance, Herbert. You've lost the plot. Again. Just because you know a little about something doesn't (a) make it relevant (b) mean we care.


@ Ed

I'm sorry. I thought it was about what could have been done to find and save Josh. Thanks for letting me know you don't care.

Posted by Herbert on April 16, 2015 13:49

Editor Comment:

That's your usual illogical leap in reasoning, herbert. It explains everything. Try keeping your ego on a leash. I lost mine many years ago. You appear to have found it and encourage it to believe it matters. I won't publish you again unless you are on topic and have something of value to say.


There is a difference between lost overboard & lost, over, bored.

Posted by Manowar on April 16, 2015 15:35


Herbert herbert herbert. Where do you get your imformation from, as a padi member you do not have to have dive insurance,it is up to the individual, if you our a dive master or above in teaching status then yes you would have insurance but josh was not teaching please check your facts

Posted by durrbert on April 17, 2015 20:58


@ durrbert

" a PADI professional has mandatory insurance "

" active PADI members must have an insurance "

Anything below DM is neither pro nor needs to activate and pay their fee every year.

Josh was quoted as being an instructor.

Hope this helps.

Posted by Herbert on April 17, 2015 23:09


herbert insurance is not mandatory for padi professionals in certain parts of the world ,europe america usa yes south east asia no as long as you pay padi your membership fees you can teach josh was a instructor we team teached together dove together many times a great tragedy for every one involved,so can now move on from this story and fill your sad boring life with some thing else thank you

Posted by durrbert on April 18, 2015 09:34

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