Coast Guard coordinates rescue of two British mariners 598 miles off Bermuda

A small boatcrew from the tanker vessel Magellan Spirit rescues two people off of a disabled and adrift 39-foot sailing vessel 580 miles off the coast of Bermuda, May 1, 2020. The Magellan Spirit was registered with the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, which enables good Samaritan vessels to be called upon by rescue coordination centers to assist vessels in their area that need help. (U.S. Coast Guard video courtesy of Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City)

A small boatcrew from the tanker vessel Magellan Spirit rescues two people off of a disabled and adrift 39-foot sailing vessel 580 miles off the coast of Bermuda, May 1, 2020.  (U.S. Coast Guard video courtesy of Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Coast Guard personnel coordinated the rescue of two British mariners 598 miles off the coast of Bermuda using the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, Friday morning.

Watchstanders at the Fifth Coast Guard District command center received the initial call from the Rescue Coordination Center United Kingdom on Wednesday at 7:43 a.m., who reported that a 39-foot sailboat had become disabled due to a non-functional steering box with two persons aboard.

The Fifth District command center activated the AMVER System to alert vessels in the area to the emergent situation and request assistance from them. The motor vessel Torm Laura answered the call and diverted to the disabled sailing vessel on Thursday, but was unable to enact a rescue due to the heavy seas, and eventually departed from the scene.


On Friday morning, two additional AMVER vessels arrived on scene: the tanker vessel Magellan Spirit and the motor vessel Ethane Sapphire. The Ethane Sapphire acted as a wind barricade for the Magellan Spirit to launch a small boat and safely recover and transfer the two British mariners onto the tanker vessel. The Magellan Spirit and the two British mariners are now en route to Spain.

The vessel was left adrift with navigation lights on and the Automatic Identification System activated so the vessel will be able to be tracked for any future recovery operations.

“When a mariner is experiencing an emergency far offshore, it can be unrealistic to get a Coast Guard asset to the scene quickly,” said Lt. Daniel Dunn, command duty officer at the Fifth Coast Guard District command center. “The AMVER System allows us to coordinate a rescue utilizing nearby vessels willing to help.”

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