A 29-year-old man arrived in good condition to Honolulu Wednesday aboard a Coast Guard small boat after being rescued by merchant mariners in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean and surviving a two- month ordeal at sea.
A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Honolulu safely transported the man from the motor vessel Nikkei Verde offshore of Honolulu to the Coast Guard Base Wednesday morning to meet awaiting EMS in stable condition.
“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District. “The Pacific is vast and inherently dangerous and all mariners respect that. These merchant mariners did the right thing in rendering assistance and most mariners heed the obligation to render assistance at sea, found in the Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, out of a sense of duty and understanding rather than required compliance.”
JRCC watchstanders in Honolulu received notification April 26, from the master of the motor vessel, reporting while on their voyage to China his crew had located a man stranded at sea aboard a 23-foot skiff. They brought him aboard and requested medical advice and assistance to return the man to his home country. They were located about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo, but still within the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility for search and rescue at the time of the report.
A Coast Guard flight surgeon provided medical advice to the crew. Coast Guard officials worked with the Nikkei Verde crew to arrange a transfer near Honolulu and coordinated with the Colombian consul in San Francisco who arranged for transportation, Customs clearance, lodging, any hospital care, and an escort ahead of his arrival to Honolulu.
According to the survivor he and three companions set out from Columbia more than two months earlier. Once the skiff’s engine became disabled they were adrift. He said he caught and ate fish and seagulls to stay alive. The three other men reportedly perished at sea. Their bodies were not aboard the skiff when located by Nikkei Verde’s crew; however, the survivor did surrender their passports to officials.
The Coast Guard assisted in the man’s rescue but is not investigating the case as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview.
The Nikkei Verde is a Panamanian-flagged 618-foot bulk carrier. JRCC Honolulu is located at the Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu and has responsibility for search and rescue across 12.2 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean to include the Main Hawaiian Islands, Guam and Saipan extending out in all directions. The Coast Guard maintains several search and rescue agreements with sovereign Pacific Island nations and regional partner countries.