AMVER ship rescues 36 fishermen in remote South Pacific (with VIDEO)

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(HONOLULU) — The 36-member crew of the Papua New Guinea-flagged 229-foot commercial purse seiner Glory Pacific No. 8 are safe following a joint rescue 2,071 miles southwest of Hawaii on Saturday.

All 36 survivors were rescued by good Samaritans aboard the 215-foot AMVER commercial fishing vessel Lomalo, registered in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who will rendezvous with the 222-foot Papua New Guinea-flagged commercial fishing vessel Pacific Journey No.1. Their crew will take the survivors aboard and bring them to their next port of call several days from now.

“This case is a perfect example of the necessary and strong coordination between the U.S. Coast Guard and our New Zealand-based search-and-rescue counterparts,” said Christopher Kimbrough of Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “Our combined efforts, coupled with the willingness of the Lomalo crew to help, led to the successful rescue of these fishermen in a very remote part of the Pacific. The fact that the Glory Pacific crew had the emergency equipment needed to abandon ship contributed significantly to the successful rescue of the full crew.”

Watch standers at JRCC Honolulu received a request Saturday from the Rescue Coordination Center New Zealand staff to provide resources to effect a rescue after the Glory Pacific No. 8 reportedly caught fire in the Pacific and the full crew successfully abandoned ship into two skiffs and several life rafts. 

JRCC Honolulu watch standers launched an HC-130 Hercules air crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point to make contact and assess the situation, and using the AMVER system, were able to locate the fishing vessel Lomalo, who agreed to assist. 

The Glory Pacific No. 8 crew had activated their emergency position indicating radio beacon alerting rescuers to their situation. Its repeating signal allowed the Hercules crew to fly directly to their location, alleviating the challenge and time necessary for a search. The Hercules crew dropped smoke flares to help vector in the Lomalo crew and also dropped water to the survivors. The Hercules crew remained on scene and maintained communication with the Lomalo crew until all 36 fishermen were rescued. 

The survivors reportedly spent 10.5 hours in the skiffs prior to rescue. The weather conditions were 6 to 12 mph winds with seas up to 10 feet and scattered showers. No injuries were reported. The fishing vessel was last seen fully engulfed in flame, unmanned, unpowered and adrift. It may present a hazard to navigation and mariners are required to keep a sharp lookout to avoid collision. 

The Hercules crew flew 4,530 miles and due to distance, fuel usage and crew fatigue limits spent the night in Pago Pago, American Samoa, to refuel and get crew rest before returning to their home station in Hawaii. 

“The Coast Guard 14th District covers more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, an area almost twice the size of Russia, with units on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, and in American Samoa, Saipan, Guam, Singapore and Japan,” said Kimbrough. “Despite being spread throughout the Pacific, we are often still very far away from those who need help, and that is why our partnerships with the other Pacific nations and AMVER are essential.”

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search-and-rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea, especially in remote areas. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

To view a Coast Guard video of the rescue, click here.

By Professional Mariner Staff