MSV CHAMPION, At sea (NNS) — Navy Reserve and active duty crew members assigned to Maritime Support Vessel (MSV) Champion rescued five family members, including two small children, while transiting the Philippine Sea Feb. 24.
While Champion was in transit to pick up additional crew members a look out spotted a man treading water. The man, who was very weak, and spoke no English, directed the crew to a spot approximately 500 yards from his position.
Upon their arrival, the crew spotted and recovered the man’s family, including two children, ages four and five.
The small boat the group was sailing had caught fire and sank at approximately 6 a.m local time. The family had been treading water and drifting in rough seas for more than 11 hours.
The children, their mother, and an elderly woman, were clinging to a piece of trash to stay afloat. Rescuers said all were sorely fatigued, shivering uncontrollably and severely dehydrated after consuming a great deal of salt water.
The man initially discovered by the crew and the small boy each had second degree burns on their midsections.
A sixth family member, the children’s grandfather, drowned before the crew discovered the family.
By Navy Operational Support Center Salt Lake City Public Affairs. Photo: SSV C-CHAMPION courtesy Military Sealift Command