Merchant Vessels Conduct Search, Rescue Small Craft
The U.S. Coast Guard's Fourteenth District has reported several simultaneous SAR efforts in the South Pacific on Wednesday, including a search conducted by two merchant vessels participating in the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) system resulting in the rescue of three men.
The AMVER response was initiated Monday when a 20-foot skiff and its occupants went several days overdue on a 140 nm voyage from Chuuk to Poluwat Atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia. A family member reported them missing, and the Coast Guard used the AMVER list of merchant vessels in the area to identify assets closest to assist. The Japanese-owned bulk carriers Shoryu and Soma Maru were nearby and responded to the request for aid, and with search patterns provided by the Coast Guard, they diverted from their commercial run between Newcastle and Japan and began a SAR effort to locate the skiff. The Shoryu found the launch on Wednesday, brought the three men aboard, took the skiff in a side tow and brought them safely to Poluwat.
AMVER collects regular daily position updates from participating vessels and maintains a continuous plot of their location and predicted track; in the event of a maritime emergency, this allows the USCG to identify the nearest ships for a coordinated response. Participating vessels include ships of many flag states, and are regularly involved in SAR efforts around the world.
The system receives about 1,000 to 3,000 requests for aid per year. Among other recent examples, on Sunday, the Coast Guard requested aid from the well-known oceanographic research vessel Atlantis for the evacuation of an ill teenage sailor from a 70-foot sailboat off Puerto Rico; the cement carrier Cozumel rescued an injured woman from the Dutch sailing vessel Tycha off Venezuela on March 24; and the bulker Jin Yun rescued three from a sunken panga off the Galapagos Islands on March 4.