On Friday, the US Coast Guard worked with two Good Samaritan ships to rescue the crew of an American tuna longliner at sea far off the coast of Hawaii.
Around 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Sector Honolulu received a call from the owner of the fishing vessel sea smile. He told the Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Communication Center (JRCC) that the ship was disabled and submerged at a spot about 500 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii. The crew reported more than five feet of water in the engine room and fish rooms, but without power they could not use their bilge pumps to drain. The ship gradually sank and was well out of range for a helicopter rescue.
The crew prepared to abandon ship and the JRCC asked the master to activate his EPIRB. Meanwhile, Coast Guard sentries dispatched an HC-130J SAR aircraft from Barbers Point Air Station. On site, the flight crew dropped two life rafts and two marker buoys, as well as a radio and other survival supplies.
Watchmen also used the AMVER system’s surface image tool to identify merchant vessels that might be close enough to come to the crew’s aid. The Taiwanese tuna longliner YingRong638 volunteered to help and she arrived around midnight. The crew safely transferred, and the Yin Rong was waiting to meet up with a ship bound for Honolulu, the Captain Minh. The survivors made a second transfer to Captain Minh and set off.
“Any time you learn that a crew is preparing to abandon ship, you immediately worry about the time it will take to reach the survivors,” said Cmdr. Marc McDonnell, operations officer at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. “We appreciate the support of the Good Samaritans aboard merchant ship Ying Rong 638 who made this rescue possible. This was a complex case given the remote location, but our crews are training for this scenario and we are happy to say that the training has paid off.”
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