Three Castaways Rescued from Deserted Island After Writing “HELP” on Sand

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Three men were rescued from a deserted island in the western Pacific after a U.S. Navy patrol plane spotted the word H-E-L-P spelled out on the sand in a real life castaway drama. 

The drama began Monday when the three men set out on their 19-foot skiff from Pulap in the state of Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. The men reported that a few hours after their departure their vessel was capsized by a large wave, and they spent the night swimming until they reached the uninhabited island of Fandadik, located approximately four nautical miles from Pulap.

Coordinating the search, the U.S. Coast Guard enlisted the help of commercial vessels participating in the AMVER program and requested air support from the Navy to search the waters in the region.

Three days later, the men were spotted by a Navy P-8A aircrew on Thursday as they waved life jackets and stood next to a large “help” sign made of palm leaves. A small boat was then able to recover the men from the island with no reported injuries.

“Ingenuity of these men to build their sign and the preparedness of having lifejackets also contributed to their safe rescue,” the Coast Guard said in a statement on Facebook. 

FANADIK, Federated States of Micronesia (April 7, 2016) Three men wave life jackets and look on as a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft discovers them on the uninhabited island of Fanadik. Three days earlier, the men’s 19-foot skiff capsized after setting out to sea from Pulap, FSM. The P-8A, attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 5, and operating from Misawa, Japan, responded to a call for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and located the men as they waved life jackets and stood next to a large "help" sign made of palm leaves. The men reported their vessel was capsized by a large wave a few hours after their departure on April 4, and spent the night swimming until they arrived at Fandadik Island, approximately four nautical miles from Pulap. A small boat from Pulap recovered the men from the island with no reported injuries. VP-5 is in the midst of a routine deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign John Knight/Released)
U.S. Navy Photo
FANADIK, Federated States of Micronesia (April 7, 2016) A small boat from Pulap, FSM, recovers three men from the uninhabited island of Fanadik after they were discovered by a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. Three days earlier, the men’s 19-foot skiff capsized after setting out to sea from Pulap. The P-8A, attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 5, and operating from Misawa, Japan, responded to a call for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and located the men as they waved life jackets and stood next to a large "help" sign made of palm leaves. The men reported their vessel was capsized by a large wave a few hours after their departure on April 4, and spent the night swimming until they arrived at Fandadik Island, approximately four nautical miles from Pulap. No injuries were reported. VP-5 is in the midst of a routine deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign John Knight/Released)
U.S. Navy Photo
FANADIK, Micronesia (April 7, 2016) One of three men discovered by a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft after their 19-foot skiff capsized after setting out to sea from Pulap, FSM, three days earlier, waves lifejackets to attract attention on the uninhabited island of Fanadik. The P-8A, attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 5, and operating from Misawa, Japan, responded to a call for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard and located the men as they waved life jackets and stood next to a large "help" sign made of palm leaves. The men reported their vessel was capsized by a large wave a few hours after their departure on April 4, and spent the night swimming until they arrived at Fandadik Island, approximately four nautical miles from Pulap. A small boat from Pulap recovered the men from the island with no reported injuries. VP-5 is in the midst of a routine deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign John Knight/Released)
U.S. Navy Photo