Merchant Tanker Rescues 18 Fishermen Off Galapagos Islands

tanker rescue
Image courtesy USCG

Published Dec 6, 2020 12:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard worked with a merchant tanker to rescue 18 Ecuadorian fishermen after their vessel sank about 300 miles to the north of the Galapagos Islands. 

The rescue coordination center for the Eleventh Coast Guard District in Alameda, California received an EPIRB alert from an unknown vessel to the north of the Galapagos Islands at 0430 hours on Friday morning. District watchstanders called for aerial eyes on the scene and notified authorities in Ecuador, who began to look into the EPIRB’s registration.

Using the AMVER system, the Coast Guard called for mariner assistance. The product tanker Hai Soon 26, which was located about 70 nm to the north of the beacon location, responded that they were willing to divert and provide aid.   

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian response officials learned that the vessel in distress was the fishing vessel Romeo, which was taking on water with 18 people aboard.

The support aircraft arrived on scene at about 11000 hours and found the capsized vessel and life raft. The aircrew directed he Hai Soon 26 to the scene. The tanker arrived at about 1230 hours and safely retrieved the 18 fishermen - five people from a life raft and 12 more from the sinking fishing boat. 

Images courtesy USCG

“It was a great partnership to provide a timely air response as well as working with the AMVER program to render timely assistance,” said PO1 Timothy Spencer of the 11th Coast Guard District command center. “Ecuador was able to assist with providing more information on the case because the EPIRB didn’t have identifying features."

The Ecuadorian nationals will disembark the Hai Soon 26 in Panama during the ship’s upcoming port call, and the Coast Guard will work with the Ecuadorian state department to repatriate the survivors.