Maine Maritime, Holland America crews to receive rescue awards

The following is a compilation of news releases from the Association for Rescue at Sea (AFRAS):

(WASHINGTON) — The crews of a U.S. maritime academy training ship and a cruise ship that participated in sea rescues will be honored at a Capitol Hill awards ceremony in September.

The Association for Rescue at Sea will present its Special Award to a representative of the Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine. The AMVER (Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System) ship rescued a lone sailor after his sailboat began taking on water 520 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, on June 10, 2015. After the initial call for help, U.S. Coast Guard authorities launched search-and-rescue aircraft from both the U.S. and Canada, but soon discovered, using the AMVER system, that State of Maine was only 29 miles away from the sailor in distress and was willing to divert to attempt a rescue. Cadets aboard the ship readied rescue equipment, fast rescue boats and rigged a Jacob’s ladder to allow the sailor to board the ship. Within a few hours of the initial notification, the survivor was safely aboard the training ship.

The crew of Veendam, a Holland America cruise ship, rescued the pilot from a single-engine plane after he ditched his aircraft in the ocean, after experiencing fuel and engine problems, 200 miles northeast of Maui, Hawaii, on Jan. 25, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard authorities launched rescue assets after the initial call for help, but found that Veendam was in the path of the aircraft, using the AMVER system. After the aircraft hit the water, the pilot got into his life raft and was quickly recovered by the crew of Veendam. The pilot was uninjured and remained on the ship until it reached its next port of call.

The awards event will be held at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 21. It will be hosted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Merchant Marine and Coast Guard Subcommittee.

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search-and-rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to people in distress at sea. During emergencies, any rescue coordination center can request the computer-based AMVER surface picture — which gives positions of all AMVER-registered ships — to determine the relative position of vessels near the distress location and divert the best suited ship or ships to respond.

AFRAS helps protect mariners from the perils of the sea by providing monetary and in-kind donations to world volunteer maritime search-and-rescue organizations. The charity also recognizes and honors extraordinary maritime rescues through an awards program and annual ceremony. AFRAS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity. Visit to learn more about the organization or make a charitable donation.

By Professional Mariner Staff