East Hawaii News

Colombian Mariner Stranded at Sea Arrives Safely to Hawai’i, Boat Mates Perish

May 4, 2016, 5:28 PM HST
* Updated May 4, 9:05 PM
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A Colombian man rescued after spending two months at sea arrived in Honolulu on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old man arrived in good condition after being rescued by merchant mariners aboard the Nikkeo Verde in the southeastern pacific aboard a 23-foot skiff last week.

JRCC watchstanders in Honolulu received notification from the master of a motor vessel that on its way to China, his crew located a man stranded at sea. The man was brought onboard. The rescuers were about 2,150 miles southeast of Hilo and sought medical advice and assistance in returning the man.

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.

A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Honolulu safely transported the man from the Nikkei Verde offshore of Honolulu to the Coast Guard Base Wednesday morning to meet awaiting emergency crews.

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“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.”

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The 29-year-old man said 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.

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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.

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