Coast Guard to award Filipino merchant ship for rescue of French sailor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard will award the crew of a Filipino merchant ship a certificate of appreciation and ship’s pennant for their role in the ocean rescue of a French national 1,381 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico, at a ceremony at Pier 22 located on Blount Island Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

The crew of the Filipino flagged vessel Sebring Express rescued the French national from the ocean 1,381 miles east of San Juan Thursday when the merchant was diverted to the area at the request of the Coast Guard 5th District watchstanders in Portsmouth, Va.

The watchstanders received notification of an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon broadcast, assigned to the sailing vessel Nacouda at 2:51 p.m. Thursday.

Using AMVER, the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, the Coast Guard directed the Sebring Express to the location of the EPIRB broadcast.

The Sebring Express arrived in the vicinity and crewmen spotted a strobe light. As the vessel approached the light, a flare was seen and the sailor was heard calling out for help. The sailor was rescued from a floating life raft at 8:47 p.m. and was reported to be in good health and spirits.

“This man’s EPIRB saved his life,” said Rear Adm. Dean Lee, commander of the Coast Guard’s 5th District. “His preparedness and use of a properly registered distress beacon allowed rescuers to quickly respond to his exact location, which is in large part why he was found, and found alive.”

“This case demonstrates there are few places we can’t find an Amver ship to rescue you,” said Benjamin Strong, AMVER’s director of maritime relations. “Hope is the last thing to die. AMVER ships give that hope to those in distress.”

The French national was sailing from the Canary Islands to Guadeloupe but was forced to abandon the Nacouda when it started taking on water in sea conditions consisting of 25 – 30 mph winds and approximately 10-foot waves.

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