SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews combined efforts Saturday with the 800-foot Panamanian flagged automobile carrier, Heijin, and the 600-foot Russian flagged chemical-tank ship, Tanais Leader, to rescue four men attempting to row across the Atlantic Ocean from Senegal to Florida.
Rescued were US citizens Jordan Hanssen, 29, and Patrick Flemming, 31, along with Canadian citizens Adam Kreck, 31, and Marcus Pukonen, 30, who were 73 days into the expedition to raise awareness for the environment when a rogue wave reportedly caused their 29-foot row boat, the James Robert Hanssen, to capsize. The men were picked up from a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 380 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico.
The rescued men, who work for the Canadian Wildlife Foundation, were on the seventy-third day of an estimated 100-day voyage that originated in Dakar, Senegal and would finish in Miami, when their journey ended abruptly and they were forced to embark the row boat’s emergency life raft.
“The great coordination and swift response between our Coast Guard rescue crews and international mariners aboard the Heijin and the Tanais Leader saved four lives from the perils of the sea,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan Commander.
On Saturday at 6:30 am, Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a 406 MHZ Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signal from the row boat. Coast Guard watchstanders then coordinated the launch of aircraft from Florida to search for the distressed vessel. Coast Guard watchstanders also conducted Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) callouts to identify and notify commercial vessels transiting in the vicinity of the distress.
The Heijin and Tanais Leader responded to the emergency callouts and diverted from their transit to provide assistance to the distressed boaters.
When the Coast Guard C-130 aircraft arrived on scene they dropped a load of rations and a VHF marine radio, which the boaters used to confirm they were all safe. The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft crew maintained watch over the boaters and vectored in the Heijin and Tanais Leader to their position. The mariners aboard the Heijin safely recovered all four survivors from the life raft shortly before sunset Saturday and are transporting them to Puerto Rico.