18 rescued from capsized fishing vessel off Galapagos Islands

The crew of the Ecuadorian fishing vessel Romeo pose for a picture after being rescued by the Cook Islands-flagged product tanker Hai Soon 26. Romeo sank approximately 560 kilometres north of the Galapagos Islands on December 4, 2020. (Photo: US Coast Guard)

The US Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of 18 Ecuadorian nationals after their 22-metre commercial fishing vessel sank approximately 560 kilometres north of the Galapagos Islands on Friday, December 4.

Eleventh Coast Guard District watchstanders received an alert from an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) from an unknown vessel north of the Galapagos Islands at 04:30 local time on Friday.

District watchstanders requested aerial support and notified Ecuadorian authorities, who then began to investigate the EPIRB’s registration.

Using the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER), the coast guard watchstanders issued a request for assistance. The crew of the Cook Islands-flagged product tanker Hai Soon 26, located 128 kilometres north of the alert location, responded that they were willing to divert and assist the distressed mariners.

Ecuadorian personnel determined the vessel in distress was the fishing vessel Romeo, which was taking on water with 18 people aboard.

Support aircraft arrived on scene at approximately 11:00, located the capsized vessel and life raft and shortly thereafter vectored in Hai Soon 26 to the location of the distressed mariners.

The tanker arrived on scene at 12:26 and retrieved the 18 Ecuadorian nationals, including five people from the life raft and 12 people from the sinking fishing boat. No medical concerns have been reported among the rescued sailors.

The Ecuadorian nationals are scheduled to depart Hai Soon 26 in Panama during the ship’s upcoming port call.

The US Coast Guard will then work with the Ecuadorian state department to repatriate the survivors.

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