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Good Samaritans Rescue American Yachtsman in North Atlantic

Damaged yacht in the North Atlantic with an inflatable liferaft nearby
Video courtesy RAF

Published Oct 18, 2022 6:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

Over the weekend, three merchant vessels responded to a request from the UK's HM Coastguard and successfully rescued an American yachtsman in the North Atlantic.

On Friday evening, HM Coastguard's Joint Rescue Coordination Center received two EPIRB alerts from a yacht about 650 nm off the west coast of Ireland. The center asked the Royal Air Force to send two patrol aircraft to confirm the location of the vessel in distress. 

At about 0820 hours on Saturday morning, the RAF aircrews found the drifting yacht. It showed signs of extensive damage and had lost its mast. HM Coastguard broadcast a request for assistance to nearby merchant shipping, and three merchant ships diverted from their commercial journeys to provide help. 

Surface conditions on scene were rough, and the first ship to attempt a rescue, the bulker Patricia V, was not able to bring the yachtsman safely aboard. The crew of the Aframax tanker Amax Anthem took a second try and succeeded in rescuing the survivor at about 0630 hours on Sunday morning. 

"We’d like to pay tribute to the excellent seamanship and skill of the crew of the Amax Anthem and the Patricia V and to thank other vessels for responding – this was a challenging rescue in difficult conditions," said Rob Priestley, UK JRCC commander. 

Priestley added that the yacht's twin EPIRBs were indispensible for the rescue. The vessel's other communication systems had been destroyed in the dismasting, and without the EPIRBs, the rescuers might never have known that the yacht was in distress.