Three men, who were stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island for three days, are now safe, after using palm fronds to spell the word "help" in the sand.
The three men were listed as missing when their 19 foot skiff was reported overdue on 5 April. They were sailing from Pulap to the island of Weno, Federated States of Micronesia in the South Pacific.
Watchstanders at the Sector Guam Command Center issued an urgent marine information broadcast. They also coordinated the assistance of the Navy P-8 aircrew and vessels in the area of the skiff’s last known location to assist in the search.
In a statement, the US Coast Guard said two large cargo ships, that are a part of AMVER, a voluntary global ship reporting system sponsored by the coast guard, diverted course and searched for a combined 17 hours, covering 178 miles of track line.
The Navy P-8 aircrew launched from Misawa Air Base in Japan at 6am on 7 April to assist in the search. The crew spotted the missing mariners around two hours into their search. The men were holding lifejackets and standing next to their makeshift palm leaf sign.
The survivors were picked up and transferred by a local, small boat to Pulap.
Sector Guam public affairs officer, Lieutenant William White said: “Our combined efforts coupled with the willingness of many different resources to come together and help, led to the successful rescue of these three men in a very remote part of the Pacific.”
AMVER is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the vest-sited ship or ships to respond.
Since 28 March, watchstanders throughout the Coast Guard 14th District have coordinated rescue efforts in the Pacific for seven separate search and rescue cases of this nature, involving 10 AMVER vessels and six aircrews resulting in 15 lives saved.
Search and rescue mission coordinator at the Coast Guard Command Center Honolulu,Jennifer Conklin said, “The Coast Guard 14th District covers an area of responsibility more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, an area almost twice the size of Russia”.
“Oftentimes, we are thousands of miles away from those who need help and because of that our partnerships with the Navy, other search and rescue organisations, partner Pacific nations and AMVER are essential,” she concludes.
As part of Pacific Partnership 2015, Coast Guard members conducted outreach in Chuuk and provided boating safety equipment such as lifejackets, radar reflectors and signaling mirrors.
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