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Mariners Saved After Writing ‘SOS’ in Sand

August 26, 2016, 9:54 AM HST
* Updated August 26, 9:56 AM
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U.S. Navy photos.

US Navy photos.

Two mariners who were stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia, were rescued today.

A Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft crew from Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 was responding to a report from AMVER vessel British Mariner of flashing lights when they spotted survivors on the beach near an “SOS” written in the sand.

This information was then relayed to search and rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Guam.

The survivors were picked up and transferred by patrol boat Palikir to Nomwin Atoll.

Watchstanders at Sector Guam command center received notification Aug. 19 from Pan-Pacific Education and Communication Experiments by Satellite (PEACESAT) of an overdue 18-foot vessel with two people aboard en route Tamatam Island, Federated States of Micronesia. The couple departed Weno Island Aug. 17 with limited supplies and no emergency equipment on board en route Tamatam with an expected arrival of Aug. 18.

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While conducting a search pattern provided by Sector Guam’s watchstanders, AMVER vessel British Mariner spotted light signals from a nearby island Aug. 24. Based on this information, Sector Guam requested deployment of a U.S. Navy P-8 aircraft crew to investigate the source of light. The P-8 crew successfully located the survivors and Sector Guam watchstanders then contacted patrol boat Palikir who rescued the survivors Aug. 26.

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During the seven-day search, Sector Guam watchstanders coordinated the assistance of 14 AMVER vessels, two aircraft crews and one FSM National Police Patrol boat, searching a total of 16,571 square miles.

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a computer-based voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and request the ships’ to divert and respond.

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