Horizon Lines’ Chief Mate Steven Itson gives a replay of the rescue at sea:
The crew of the 38-foot sailboat Liahona contacted the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska Tuesday at approximately 5:30 p.m via satellite phone. Their sailboat became disabled in seas of 6-to-13 feet and winds of 34 mph. The vessel reportedly suffered damage to its top forestay and its engine overheated. The crew attempted to rig a makeshift sail but completely lost its mast in the extreme conditions.
Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu contacted the 893-foot container ship Horizon Reliance to render assistance under the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER). The Horizon Reliance was 149 miles northeast of their Liahona’s location.
At 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning the Horizon Reliance reached the disabled vessel. As the Horizon Reliance approached the vessel, weather conditions caused the bow of the Horizon Reliance to strike the sailboat. The Liahona began taking on water and sank, forcing the three passengers into the sea.
The Horizon Reliance maneuvered and lowered a Jacobs’s ladder to reach the survivors. A 29-year-old man was rescued at 2:30 a.m. by the crew of the Horizon Reliance, but the others, a 32-year-old man and 9-year-old boy, drifted away. Both were rescued at 3:20 a.m.
All three sailors are reportedly in good condition.
“We are thankful the Horizon Reliance was in the right place at the right time to come to the aid of these individuals,” said William A. Hamlin, Horizon Lines Senior Vice President of Operations. “We commend Captain Kelleher and his crew for their skilled seamanship in accomplishing a successful rescue despite very adverse weather conditions.”
“No rescue situation can be completely planned for, the sea is ever changing and unforgiving,” said Cmdr. Mark Morin, District Response Manager. “The crew had life jackets with strobe lights on, which was critical in aiding to the Horizon Reliance to keep an eye on them and make the rescue.”
The Liahona was traveling from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Oahu, Hawaii.
The Kiska is a 110-foot patrol boat based in Hilo, Hawaii.
AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.
For more information about AMVER visit www.amver.com.