Crews on Two U.S. Flagged Tankers Conduct Rescues in 18-Hour Span

sea rescue
Two OSG vessels conducted rescues within an 18-hour span (OSG)

Published Jun 8, 2023 8:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S.-based shipping company Overseas Shipholding Group is commending the crews aboard two of the company’s U.S.-registered tankers for coming to the aid of sailors in trouble. In less than a day, crews aboard two of the company’s tankers diverted their ships to respond to distress calls.

“I have been involved directly or indirectly in eight or ten rescues at sea in over 40 years. I never imagined that in the course of 18 hours, we would have two rescues in quick succession,” said Sam Norton, OSG’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The human response to such developments is too often to diminish the significance of the latter of a series of events, their occurrence somehow becoming normalized. That would be the wrong response. The preservation of any individual’s life in a time of crisis is a remarkable and extraordinary event.”

The first rescue took place on May 30 involving the company’s tanker Overseas Santorini (51,662 dwt). With daylight fading, the crew of the Overseas Santorini, reports that were notified by U.S. Coast Guard Norfolk along with two other vessels that a sailing vessel was in distress in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The sailboat had encountered severe weather conditions resulting in a hull breach, causing it to take on water, with individuals onboard fatigued and possibly injured. The closest point of land was the Azores approximately 800 miles to the east. 

The crew of the Overseas Santorini immediately diverted toward the vessel which was broadcasting a distress signal approximately 30 nautical miles away. Sailing at top speed, the Overseas Santorini successfully rescued a family of four – two adults and two children. 


“We train and drill for these scenarios all the time, hoping the call never comes, but that collectively we can come together to allow for a successful outcome when it does,” said Captain Peter Behling of the Overseas Santorini.

Little did the company know that just hours later the following morning, the Overseas Nikiski (46,665 dwt) would respond to a distress signal issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Clearwater, alerting them to two stranded individuals aboard a sailing boat adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Due to a loss of both propulsion and steering, and facing a developing tropical depression, the sailing vessel was in dire need of assistance. The Overseas Nikiski altered course quickly reaching the distressed sailboat, and successfully rescued both individuals.


Sailboat was brought alongside for the rescue (OSG)


“OSG is immensely proud of its seafarers for their selflessness, their dedication to the preservation of life, and for the professionalism displayed in these challenging and stressful situations. These rescue efforts exemplify OSG's commitment to the highest standards of maritime safety and the paramount concern for human life,” said OSG’s Chief Operations Officer, Patrick O’Halloran. 

The company reports that the six individuals that were rescued were cared for on their vessels and disembarked at the vessels’ next port of call.

OSG is no stranger to sea rescues. Two months ago, another of the company’s tankers, the Overseas Long Beach noticed a vessel in distress which turned out to be a boat carrying 12 migrants. The OSG crew said it appeared there were out of food, water, and fuel as well as requiring medical attention. The crew rescued the individuals and coordinated with the US Coast Guard for their safe transfer.