AMVER, or the 'Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System', is a worldwide voluntary reporting system for ships, the brainchild of the United States Coast Guard. It renders often life-saving assistance in rescuing distressed sailors from yachts in trouble. Now it's done it again, this time by calling into service Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's megayacht Octopus.
AMVER rescue - the view of a crew member as they perform a rescue
The crew of the Octopus came to the rescue for the second time this year - this time embarking a sailor from a 38 foot sailboat and assisting his crew member on the ironically named sailboat Sequel, after the yachtsmen activated a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) 645 miles south-west of San Diego, CA on November 15, 2012.
The sailing boat was on a voyage from Hawaii to California when the crew activated their EPIRB after their sails were damaged and they were dead in the water. U.S. Coast Guard rescue personnel at the Eleventh District Command Center received the alert and launched a search aircraft from Sacramento. Through AMVER, the participating superyacht Octopus, which happened to be only around 50 miles from the yacht, was asked to divert and assist. It took them just three hours to arrive on the scene.
A 37-year-old crew member of the yacht was transferred to the Octopus complaining of stomach pains, but the skipper of the Sequel, like the good seaman he obviously was, refused to abandon his boat. Instead, the Octopus transferred 80 litres of fuel together with food and water to the yacht. In the sea conditions the sailing boat was able only to make four knots, but the skipper insisted that he could reach California.
The rescued crew member was treated by the nursing staff on-board the Octopus, and was delivered back to Honolulu, from where he had started his journey.
The Octopus enrolled in the voluntary AMVER only in 2011 but had already been called once to assist in the search for a missing plane in the Pacific Ocean earlier this year.
More about AMVER:
The first germ of an idea for AMVER was born after the Titanic disaster in 1912, as there were several ships close by who could have assisted but were ignorant of the Titanic's plight.
AMVER itself was formed in 1958, but the introduction of EPIRB technology has increased its value and changed its role, allowing it to concentrate more on the rescue role.
Today, over 22,000 ships from hundreds of nations participate in AMVER. An average of 4,000 ships are on the AMVER plot each day and those numbers continue to increase.
The AMVER Center computer receives over 14,000 AMVER messages a day.
Over 2,800 lives have been saved by AMVER participating ships since 2000.