SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico –U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders combined efforts with two international maritime rescue coordination centers, and the motor tanker Orfea, Sunday and Monday, to rescue four French boaters in the Atlantic Ocean.
Rescued are three men and a woman who were transiting aboard the 50-foot French sailing vessel L’Almiral, from the Spanish Canary Island of Las Palmas to the Caribbean Island of St. Maarten, when a rudder blade failure rendered the vessel disabled in 16-foot seas and 40 knot winds, approximately 1,082 nautical miles east of Puerto Rico.
“This type of long range offshore search and rescue case highlights the importance of international partner nations and AMVER vessels working together to save lives,” said Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Phillips, Sector San Juan Command Center chief.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received notification of the incident Sunday afternoon from the Fort de France Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Center in St. Maarten.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan conducted an Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) callout to identify and notify vessels transiting in the vicinity of the distress and coordinated with Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Greece to contact the 750-foot Bahamian-flagged tanker Orfea, which was approximately 250 nautical miles from the disabled sailing vessel. The Orfea agreed to respond and diverted to render assistance and attempt to rescue the distressed boaters. Meanwhile, Fort de France Rescue Center Fort De France contacted the Cayman-flagged sailing vessel Naema that was approximately eight nautical miles from the distressed sailing vessel. The Naema responded and arrived on scene with the L’Almiral but the heavy sea state prevented a rescue attempt from taking place. The Naema remained on scene monitoring the situation as the Orfea continued to approach the area. The Orfea arrived on scene and managed the difficult seas for several hours until the crew was able to rescue all four boaters from the distressed sailing vessel Monday night.
The rescued boaters will continue onboard the Orfea as the vessel transits to its next scheduled port of call in Gibraltar.
AMVER, sponsored by the United States 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. With AMVER rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.
AMVER’s mission is to quickly provide search and rescue authorities, on-demand, accurate information on the positions and characteristics of vessels near a reported distress.