Good Samaritans successfully evacuate mariners from two sailing vessels in the Pacific

AMVER FlagHONOLULU — Mariners from two disabled sailing vessels were rescued by good Samaritans roughly 2,000 miles southeast of Hilo on the Big Island, Thursday.

The crew of the fishing vessel Azteca 5 rescued the three mariners aboard the sailing vessel Ran Tan II while the crew of the commercial car carrier Tomar rescued the two people aboard the sailing vessel Irish Eyes.

“There were no reports of injuries among either crew,” said Chris Kimbrough, a search and rescue controller at Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu. “We are thankful to the crews of the Azteca 5 and Tomar for answering the call when their fellow mariners were in distress.”

At 5:17 p.m., Wednesday, JRCC watchstanders received a report from the master of the 49-foot sailing vessel Ran Tan II stating the vessel’s keel was failing. The watchstanders immediately issued a SafteyNet broadcast requesting assistance from vessels in the area. The crew of the fishing vessel Azteca 5 responded to the request for help and diverted course to the Ran Tan II’s location. Once on-scene, the crew of the Azteca 5 launched their helicopter and small boat and recovered the three mariners aboard the Ran Tan II.

Tuesday, JRCC watchstanders received a report of an SOS activation through a GPS-enabled text device belonging to the 29-foot sailing vessel Irish Eyes 1,840 miles southeast of Hilo. Watchstanders made contact with the master who said the boat was de-masted Monday and they were unable to make repairs, but the two people aboard were seeking assistance from friends in the region. JRCC watchstanders ensured the crew had enough supplies and set up a communication schedule with them to monitor the situation. The watchstanders also began searching for nearby vessels able to assist should the Irish Eyes crew request a rescue.

On Wednesday, that request came, and the JRCC watchstanders issued a SafteyNet broadcast requesting assistance from vessels in the area. The merchant vessel Tomar, which participates in the Automated Mutual-Response Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) agreed to assist and began making way towards the Irish Eyes. Today, upon arriving on-scene, the crew of the Tomar was able to retrieve the two mariners without incident.

The New Zealand-based Ran Tan II is a performance sailing yacht and was transiting to California from French Polynesia in preparation for the 50th Transpacific Yacht Race due to commence in July. The Irish Eyes is a recreational sailing vessel from California, and was en route to Tahiti when it became de-masted. The weather on scene was reportedly winds of 17 mph and seas up to 7 feet.

AMVER is a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the United States Coast Guard. It is a computer-based 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 those in distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond. Engaging in AMVER does not put ships under any additional obligation to assist in search and rescue efforts, beyond that which is required under international law.

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