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Coast Guard searches for missing cruise passenger off Hawaii

HONOLULU — Coast Guard officials sent a rescue plane to waters northeast of Hawaii on Wednesday afternoon to respond to reports of a woman going overboard on a cruise ship.

Witnesses and security video confirmed the 54-year-old American passenger was "intentionally going overboard," spokeswoman Julie Benson of Princess Cruises said.

The Grand Princess cruise ship changed its course and was searching for the woman in waters about 650 miles northeast of Hilo, on Hawaii's Big Island, Benson said.

Coast Guard officials say they were notified the woman went overboard by crew aboard the ship. Dispatchers sent an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew toward the ship from Air Station Barber's Point about 4 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time, roughly four hours after the woman went overboard. Officials estimated the flight to the ship would take about 2 hours.

Benson said the 1,300-cabin ship was three days into a roundtrip cruise to Hawaii from San Francisco. The Grand Princess has 17 decks, is nearly 950 feet long and nearly 190 feet tall.

Coast Guard officials initially reported the woman's age as 30, but Benson said records with the cruise company indicate the woman is 54.