Cruise ship diverts to rescue sailors on remote island

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

(HONOLULU) — Two sailors are safe after their 37-foot sailing vessel sustained severe damage when it ran aground, stranding them on a small remote island near Malden Island, Kiribati.

The men were en route to Tahiti from Lanai, Hawaii, when they ran aground on a coral reef in their vessel, Hina Nui. One of the sailors contacted his wife via satellite phone to relay their distress. The men reported irreparable damage to the sailboat, but that they were safe and uninjured.

The wife contacted watch standers at the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Coast Guard watch standers identified the nearby Celebrity Solstice, a 963-foot cruise ship, approximately 184 miles from the stranded mariners. The cruise ship agreed to divert course to rescue the two men.

The crew of the cruise ship identified a safe location on the western side of the island and communicated with the mariners using a VHF radio. The men hiked from the eastern tip of the island where the sailboat grounded, and met the rescue crew from the cruise ship. At approximately 10 a.m., the men were successfully transported back to the cruise ship.

Celebrity Solstice is currently en route to its next port call to the Hawaiian Islands.

"The fact that these men were well prepared with an emergency position indicating radio beacon and a satellite phone contributed to their successful rescue," said Lt. j.g. Heidi Will, a search and rescue coordinator at the JRCC. "Mariners are advised to carry all appropriate safety equipment as maritime emergencies can occur quickly and without warning to even the most experienced individuals."

By Professional Mariner Staff