Three Sailors Rescued from Sinking Ship Off American Samoa

Three Sailors Rescued from Sinking Ship Off American Samoa

Two Americans and a Canadian have been rescued from a vessel that began taking on water this morning 150 nautical miles (280km) south-south west of American Samoa.

The initial report was received via Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Honolulu shortly after 4.30am, with the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) receiving a transmission from the vessel’s emergency locator beacon (EPIRB) just before 8am.

The crew of the vessel, the 31m MV Horizons, was communicating via satellite phone and email with a contact in Tonga and reported the vessel was taking on water and expected to sink. Liferafts were deployed alongside, in case it became necessary to abandon ship, with the crew equipped with a handheld vhf radio to maintain communications.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said three vessels were directed to the scene with charter fishing vessel MV Last Stall the first to arrive, rescuing the crew at around midday.

An RNZAF P3 Orion was also dispatched to area and due to arrive at around 2pm, but was recalled following the rescue.

The MV Horizons remains afloat at this stage and a navigation warning will be issued alerting shipping in the area. It is not known what caused the vessel to take on water but it is expected to sink. The vessel is registered in the Cayman Islands and is believed to be a long-range support vessel for fishing charters.

“This is an excellent outcome for what could have been a very serious incident,” Mr Wilson said.

“We were fortunate there were a number of vessels relatively close to the scene and particularly appreciate the efforts of the MV Last Stall, which was heading for Tonga for repairs to its propeller shaft when it responded.”

The MV Last Stall is continuing to Tonga with the rescued crew on board, a journey expected to take around two days.


Maritime NZ, June 17, 2013