American Boxship Rescues Three Sailors Off Hawaii

Mahimahi (file image courtesy Mike Linksvayer / CC BY 2.0)

Published Jul 10, 2020 7:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, the crew of the Matson boxship Mahimahi rescued three sailors from the disabled 50-foot trimaran Third Try at a position 825 miles northeast of Oahu.

At 0800 hours on Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard's 14th District rescue coordination center received a report from a friend of the trimaran’s master, who expressed concern because the vessel had not made contact since Monday. The sailing vessel was attempting a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe, and its last known position was between California and Hawaii.

JRCC watchstanders issued a broadcast to shipping and spoke with the master's friends and family to find out more about the vessel's planned route. They also reached out to Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) ships in the area for assistance, and the crew of the nearby Matson feedermax Mahimahi agreed to divert and search for the Third Try along its suspected route.

At 1500 hours on Tuesday, the JRCC received an alert from an EPIRB registered to the Third Try. They launched a Hercules aircrew out of Air Station Barbers Point to the scene and let the Mahimahi's crew know about the new location.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene and located the drifting Third Try. The aircrew reported the vessel had structural damage and had lost its rudder. The three sailors on board were asking for help leaving the vessel. 

At about 0330 hours on Wednesday morning, the Mahimahi's crew arrived on scene and successfully evacuated the three mariners from the Third Try.

“One of our greatest challenges out here in the Pacific is distance,” said Lt. Diane French, a Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) command duty officer. “First responders are often days away and we regularly rely on merchant vessel crews like the Mahimahi’s to assist with search and rescue cases. We are always grateful for their help.”

The Mahimahi (ex name President Washington) is a 2,800 TEU boxship built at Avondale in 1983.