Merchant Ship Rescues 14 Senegal Sailors Off Cape Cod

NEW YORK-Fourteen Senegal nationals arrived in Brooklyn today aboard a merchant ship after being plucked from their 60-foot catamaran about 800 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., Saturday afternoon. All 14 rescued, reportedly in good physical condition, were placed in the care of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Center received a distress report and diverted the “AMVER”-participating merchant ship OOCL Melbourne to render assistance. The merchant ship OOCL Melbourne was transiting from Barcelona, Spain to Brooklyn.

A joint-agency boarding team of Coast Guard Sector New York and Customs and Border Protection officers met the merchant ship OOCL Melbourne at Ambrose Light Anchorage, about 12 miles outside the Port of New York and New Jersey, about 10:00 a.m. today. The boarding team remained on board until the ship moored at the Red Hook shipping terminal in Brooklyn.

The Crew and Master of merchant ship were commended by the Coast Guard for their seamanship and professionalism in going out of their way to come to the “rescue” of 14 on the catamaran, and for their voluntary support of AMVER / rescue at sea program. They maneuvered their 770 foot merchant ship alongside the distressed catamaran to remove the 14 sailors in the middle of the North Atlantic during January weather and sea conditions.

The AMVER system, 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. Prior to sailing, participating ships send a sail plan to the AMVER computer center.

Vessels then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port of call. This data is able to project the position of each ship at any point during its voyage. In an emergency, any rescue coordination center can request this data to determine the relative position of AMVER ships near the distress location. On any given day there are over 3,100 ships available to carry out search and rescue services at sea. Visit the AMVER website to learn more about this unique worldwide search and rescue system.

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3 Comments

  1. John Wilkinson says:

    Are there any videos or photographs of this rescue? Is there a contact address or number to write to the rescuers to thank them?

    I am a former Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Senegal for eight years.

  2. cgnews says:

    I am unaware of any video or photographs and am unaware of how you would be able to contact the crew of the OOCL Melbourne.

  3. Zain Abdullah says:

    This is a remarkable story. I know the Daily News covered the rescue briefly. Has there been any other news coverage of the rescue or news on what happened to the sailors? Was there a trial and where are they now? Were they eventually deported? Or were they granted entry?