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The crews of two Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) tankers came to the aid of six individuals in two separate at-sea rescues taking place within just 18 hours of each other.
The rescues involved the U.S.-flagged tankers Overseas Santorini and the Overseas Nikiski in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, respectively, in late May.
“I have been involved directly or indirectly in eight or ten rescues at sea in over 40 years. I never imagined that in the course of 18 hours we would have two rescues in quick succession,” said Sam Norton, OSG’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The human response to such developments is too often to diminish the significance of the latter of a series of events, their occurrence somehow becoming normalized. That would be the wrong response. The preservation of any individual’s life in a time of crisis is a remarkable and extraordinary event.”
With daylight fading on May 30, 2023, the crew of the Overseas Santorini, as well as two other vessels, were notified by U.S. Coast Guard Norfolk of a sailing vessel in distress in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The closest point of land was the Azores approximately 800 miles to the East. The sailboat had encountered severe weather conditions resulting in a hull breach, causing it to take on water, with individuals onboard fatigued and possibly injured.
The crew of the tanker immediately diverted toward the vessel which was broadcasting a distress signal approximately 30 nautical miles away. After arriving on scene, the Overseas Santorini successfully rescued a family of four – two adults and two children.
“We train and drill for these scenarios all the time, hoping the call never comes, but that collectively we can come together to allow for a successful outcome when it does,” said Captain Peter Behling of the Overseas Santorini.
The following morning, the Overseas Nikiski responded to a distress signal issued by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Clearwater, alerting them to two stranded individuals aboard a sailing boat adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. Due to a loss of both propulsion and steering, and facing a developing tropical depression, the sailing vessel was in dire need of assistance. Without hesitation, the Overseas Nikiski altered course quickly reaching the distressed sailboat, successfully rescuing both individuals.
“The recent rescues that unfolded on two of our vessels, separated by mere hours, are a reminder of the enormity of the ocean and its ability to make a single human life seem infinitely small,” said Norton. “The collective and inspired choice of each crew to act with honest concern and empathy for those in distress and to engage without hesitation in providing the relief required affirms in the most visible way possible the standards of ethics and transparency that I believe lie at the core of OSG’s culture.”
OSG’s Chief Operations Officer, Patrick O’Halloran, commended those involved. “OSG is immensely proud of its seafarers for their selflessness, their dedication to the preservation of life, and for the professionalism displayed in these challenging and stressful situations. These rescue efforts exemplify OSG’s commitment to the highest standards of maritime safety and the paramount concern for human life,” he said.
All persons rescued in each case were taken onboard the responding vessels and were disembarked at each of the vessels’ next port of call.
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