Containership rescues adrift sailor over 500 nautical miles offshore in Alaskan waters

The disabled and adrift sailing vessel Miss Lilly is seen through the window of the bridge of President Eisenhower, a 300-metre containership, approximately 500 nautical miles south southwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, June 4, 2020. (Photo: US Coast Guard)

The US Coast Guard Seventeenth District command centre personnel coordinated efforts with a commercial containership to rescue a 67-year-old man from his disabled and adrift sailing vessel roughly 500 nautical miles south-southwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on Thursday, June 4.

At approximately 9:00 on Thursday, Coast Guard District 17 command center watchstanders received a distress alert from the 8.5-metre sailing vessel Miss Lilly, in which the man aboard reported his vessel to be disabled and adrift and that he was in need of assistance.

The distress alert was communicated from the man’s 406Mhz emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) to a search and rescue satellite that relayed the message to the coast guard.

Due to the long distance to the position, command centre personnel requested assistance from nearby commercial vessels using the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) system. The coast guard issued an urgent marine information broadcast across a 100-nautical-mile radius from the distress position to request local assistance for the stranded man using an Enhanced Group Call (EGC) over a satellite e-mail system.

District 17 command center personnel diverted the Hamilton-class high-endurance cutter Mellon and launched an Air Station Kodiak C-130J Hercules aircraft to assist with the search and provide a communications platform during the operation.

The crew of President Eisenhower, a US-flagged, 300-metre containership, responded and diverted 30 nautical miles to assist the distressed sailor on Miss Lilly.

The containership arrived on-scene and established verbal communications with the man who wanted to abandon his vessel and come on board due to his vessel no longer being safe or seaworthy.

The crew of President Eisenhower launched one of their small boats, retrieved the distressed sailor, and brought him aboard.

The coast guard said that all of the sailing vessel’s sails were ripped, the engine was inoperable, and the electronics all failed except for the EPIRB, which the sailor activated in distress.

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