AMVER Anniversary: 2,800 Lives Saved

AMVER historical

Published Jul 18, 2015 10:47 PM by Wendy Laursen

Saturday marked the 57th anniversary of the establishment of AMVER. The program, 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.

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued a statement saying, “We just want to salute the thousands of vessels that have enrolled in the AMVER program over the years. You, the seafarer, have made AMVER the voluntary powerhouse it is today. Because of your selflessness countless lives have been saved.”

Amver ultimately finds its roots in the RMS Titanic disaster in 1912. Ships passing within sight of the ill-fated passenger liner were unaware that it had hit an iceberg and was sinking. Upon later investigation, those who had seen the distress flares from the stricken ship admitted they thought they were merely part of the maiden voyage celebrations.

However, the resultant idea of a ship reporting system that could identify other ships in the area of a ship in distress, which could then be sent to its assistance, would not become a reality until the advent of computer technology. As late as the mid-twentieth century the world's commercial shipping fleet and burgeoning air transport system lacked an available full-time, global emergency reporting system. On April 15, 1958 the United States Coast Guard and commercial shipping representatives began discussions which led to the creation of AMVER.

Originally known as the Atlantic Merchant Vessel Emergency Reporting (AMVER) System, it became operational on July 18, 1958. Today, over 22,000 ships from hundreds of nations participate in AMVER. An average of 4,000 ships are on the AMVER plot each day and those numbers continue to increase. The AMVER Center computer receives over 14,000 Amver messages a day. 

Over 2,800 lives have been saved by AMVER-participating ships since 2000. The success of AMVER is the direct result of the extraordinary cooperation of ships, companies, SAR authorities, communication service providers and governments in supporting this international humanitarian program to protect life and property at sea.

Rescues in 2015

Some rescue highlights from 2015 include:

•    The cruise ship Celebrity Solstice rescued two sailors from a deserted island after their 37-foot sailboat was damaged after running aground on a deserted island near Malden Island, Kiribati on Thursday, April 16, 2015. 

•    The cement carrier Cozumel rescued an injured woman from the Dutch sailing vessel Tycha 180 miles northeast of Caracas, Venezuela on Tuesday, March 24, 2015. 

•    The bulk carrier Jin Yun rescued three people from a sunken panga 500 miles north of the Galapagos Islands on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. 

•    The cruise ship Disney Wonder rescued a Cuban migrant from a rustic raft 21 miles south of Marathon, Florida on Monday, March 2, 2015. 

•    The cruise ship Celebrity Reflection notified U.S. Coast Guard authorities their crew rescued ten Cuban migrants from a sinking rustic vessel 26 miles southeast of Lower Matecumbe Key, Fla. on Sunday, March 1, 2015. 

•    U.S. Coast Guard rescue authorities in Guam diverted the Amver participating bulk carrier Hebei Triumph after they received a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for possible tug boat distress 154 miles northeast of Palau on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.

•    Rescue authorities in Taiwan requested Amver assistance from U.S. Coast Guard officials to divert the Amver participating ship NSS Fortune to assist fishermen abandoning their burning fishing vessel 400 miles southeast of Kagoshima, Japan on Monday, February 9, 2015. 

•    The offshore supply vessel Harvey Falcon and the tanker Moscow University assisted in a search for the fishing vessel Captain Mike after an EPRIB alert was received for the fishing vessel 170 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. 

•    The tanker Aqualeader assisted in the rescue of five sailors after they alerted rescue personnel they were in distress 120 miles southwest of Monterey, California on Saturday, January 31, 2015. 

•    The car carrier Astral Ace rescued five fishermen in the South China Sea on Sunday, February 1, 2015. 

•    The cargo ship Ocean Crescent responded to a call to rescue the crew of a 55-foot catamaran with five people on board 200 miles south southeast of Cape Hattaras, North Carolina on Friday, January 30, 2015. 

•    The cruise ship Veendam rescued a pilot after he ditched 200 miles northeast of Maui on Sunday, January 25, 2015.