Sailor on disabled boat requires three AMVER responses

Hanjin Germany

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

(WASHINGTON) — Three Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) ships assisted a lone sailor as he experienced mishap after mishap on a journey from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Los Angeles, Calif.

U.S. Coast Guard rescue personnel in Los Angeles received a notification from the Garmin/Inreach Emergency Call Center that a lone sailor on a 45-foot sailboat was disabled and adrift approximately 700 miles west of Cabo San Lucas and requested a mechanic to help him effect repairs to his sailboat engine.

The Coast Guard, using an AMVER surface picture, located the 587-foot bulk carrier Indigo Lake which was 340 miles from the sailboat. The captain of the Hong Kong-flagged AMVER participant diverted and made preparations to embark the sailor. Once Indigo Lake arrived on scene it rigged a safety net and pilot ladder and provided a lee for the disabled sailboat. The sailor aboard the disabled boat declined to abandon ship and instead requested members of Indigo Lake make repairs to his engine. The captain of Indigo Lake could not safely board the sailboat and was released by the Coast Guard.

The sailor reported he was able to lower his jib and main sail and, while the main sail was tattered, was able to make way toward Los Angeles under sail. Rescue authorities then located the Norwegian-flagged general cargo ship Star Gran which agreed to divert and see if they could render assistance. The crew of the 646-foot ship agreed to divert and help. Star Gran was able to located the sailboat, tie it up alongside the ship and lower the chief engineer down to the sailboat to help troubleshoot the engine. Star Gran briefly embarked the sailor who was given breakfast and talked to Coast Guard authorities via satellite phone. Ultimately the sailor decided to disembark the AMVER ship and continue his attempt to Los Angeles. Star Gran was released by the Coast Guard.

The following day the Coast Guard was contacted by the sailor saying he had turned off his engine to tighten a belt and could not restart his engine. He again requested assistance and Coast Guard rescue personnel, continuing to use the AMVER system, located the containership Express  Berlin and requested they divert and assist the sailor. The captain and crew of Express Berlin were briefed on the situation and agreed to help.

Express Berlin arrived on scene, secured the sailboat and sent a team on the sailboat to troubleshoot the engine. The engineering crew of the containership supplied new batteries along with a spare and for a third time, the sailor declined rescue. Express Berlin was released only to be recalled after several hours when the sailor stated he was ready to abandon ship. The 76-year-old sailor safely embarked the Greek-flagged containership without injury and will remain on board until it reaches its next port call in Taiwan.

Express Berlin, managed by Danaos Shipping of Greece, enrolled in AMVER on March 25, 2011 and has earned seven AMVER participation awards. Star Gran, managed by G2 Ocean of Norway, enrolled in AMVER on Jan. 1, 1987 and has earned 27 AMVER participation awards. Indigo Lake, managed by Pacific Basin Shipping of Hong Kong, enrolled in AMVER on Nov. 4, 2015 and has earned two AMVER participation awards.

By Professional Mariner Staff