Containership Crew Rescues Sailors 825 Miles off Hawaii

The crew aboard a U.S.-flagged containership rescued three sailors from a 50-foot trimaran that became disabled in the Pacific Ocean, about 825 miles northeast of Oahu, last week.

At 8 a.m., last Tuesday, U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders at Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) Honolulu received a report from a friend of the trimaran’s master stating the vessel, Third Try, had not made contact since Monday. The three mariners aboard were attempting a nonstop circumnavigation of the globe, and their last known position was between California and Hawaii.

Watchstanders issued a SafetyNET broadcast notifying merchant vessels in the region of the situation and spoke with the Third Try’s captain’s friend and family to ascertain the vessel’s intended route.

Watchstanders also reached out to Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) ships in the area for assistance. The crew of the nearby Matson vessel Mahimahi, which had been en route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, agreed to divert and travel along the Third Try’s suspected route.

At 3 p.m., Tuesday, Watchstanders received an alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registered to the Third Try. Watchstanders updated the SafetyNET broadcast with the new location and launched an Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules aircrew with a life raft aboard in response. They also notified the Mahimahi crew of the new location.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene and located the adrift Third Try. The aircrew reported the vessel had structural damage and had lost its rudder. The mariners were requesting to be removed from the vessel.

At 3:30 a.m., Wednesday, the Mahimahi crew arrived on scene and evacuated the three mariners from the Third Try. No injuries were reported. The mariners traveled aboard Mahimahi and arrived in Honolulu Thursday afternoon.

A hazard to navigation notice to mariners has been issued regarding the derelict trimaran.

“One of our greatest challenges out here in the Pacific is distance,” said Lt. Diane French, a JRCC command duty officer.

JRCC Honolulu coordinates aviation and maritime search and rescue (SAR), and its SAR region spans more than 14 million square nautical miles of the Pacific ocean.

“First responders are often days away and we regularly rely on merchant vessel crews like the Mahimahi’s to assist with search and rescue cases. We are always grateful for their help,” Lt. French said.

AMVER is a worldwide voluntary reporting system sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is a computer-based global ship-reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of those in distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond. Engaging in AMVER does not put ships under any additional obligation to assist in search and rescue efforts, beyond that which is required under international law.

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