It's something every cruising sailors should be aware of. A crew of three have been plucked from the Pacific - not by a rescue organisation, but, again, by a merchant ship. It's yet another tale of a dramatic rescue by a merchant vessel which had to search for the proverbial needle in a haystack to find a stricken yacht sinking some fifty miles south of Balboa on the coast of Panama, and again it's thanks to the world-wide assistance of AMVER.
It was such a joint effort. Thanks not only to the diligence of the US Coast Guard and the actions of Captain Singh and his crew aboard the MT Glenda Meryl, but also to the world-wide voluntary AMVER
a 47,250 dwt oil/chemical tanker, flagged in Liberia and jointly owned by d'Amico and Glencore and managed by Ishima ship management, the lives of the all-American crew of three were rescued safely.
On Sunday March 30th the yacht, the 42 foot Even Star out of California radioed for help via its 406 MHz emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and this was notified to the watch of 11th Coast Guard District rescue coordination centre in Alameda, California who quickly established details from the registered owner’s family. The Coast Guard used the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) system and requested assistance from any vessels transiting the area, a call answered immediately by the AMVER system tanker.
The distress call was picked up at 4:15 am and the Glenda Meryl immediately changed course to head for the search area some thirty miles away. At 5:23 pm the lookout on the tanker spotted the tree strong crew who had taken to the yacht’s life raft, doubtless shaken but otherwise unharmed. The rescuers were assisted by a radio ham with the Panama Air Force who coordinated and communicated with those involved. Capt. Michael Eagle, Chief of the 11th Coast Guard District Response, commented: 'The EPIRB was the key to saving these lives. We appreciate the quick response from fellow mariners and Ham radio stations in this case, but without that initial signal from the EPIRB we may never have known about this distress. We urge all boaters to get an EPIRB, and register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.'
Pumps aboard the yacht were apparently incapable of dealing with a serious leak that the sailboat had developed after a fire was reportedly to have occurred on board. Captain Singh and the crew of the Glenda Meryl were said to have demonstrated exemplary seamanship and navigation skills in locating the crew in darkness in the inhospitable weather of the Atlantic Ocean and were thanked by her owners for demonstrating qualities illustrating, ‘the finest traditions of the Merchant service’.
Latest reports suggest the crew of three from the sunken vessel have now been landed safely at the Port of Balboa in Panama. Once again AMVER
, the unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea, has proved its worth in what could otherwise have been a much more serious occurrence.