On April 12, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) recognized the master and crew of the car carrier Comet Ace for rescuing a man overboard in Vitiaz Strait last Saturday.
The seafarer, a cadet on the handy bulker Cape Spencer, was noticed missing at about 0630 hours local time, and his crewmates had last seen him at 0430. The crew reported his absence as a suspected man overboard to AMSA, which coordinated a search effort with the authorities in Papa New Guinea.
AMSA broadcast a request for assistance from ships in the area, and the Comet Ace diverted to respond. Despite poor visibility at the scene, the Ace located the missing cadet in the water and brought him on board at 0730 hours. He was not injured, and was later transferred back to the Cape Spencer. At the time of his rescue, the cadet had been treading water for three hours without a lifejacket.
“Every minute counts during a search and rescue operation, and without the assistance provided by the Comet Ace this may have been a different story,” said AMSA Joint Rescue Coordination Centre manager Alan Lloyd. “Often those best-placed to respond to a man overboard situation are the ships nearby.”
As of Thursday, the 1997-built Cape Spencer was among the dozens of bulkers anchored off Hay Point, Australia, awaiting loading at a coal terminal.