Two separate, successful rescues of sailing crews occurred during the past week, thanks to the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER). Originating after the TITANIC tragedy, AMVER has developed into a computer-based, voluntary-enrollment global reporting system managed by the U.S. Coast Guard and used by maritime rescue authorities worldwide to alert and divert nearby AMVER-enrolled ships to aid mariners in peril.
The first rescue was of the crew of S/V OUTER LIMITS, about 400 miles northeast of Bermuda, on the evening of May 18. OUTER LIMITS had been racing from the Bahamas to the Azores. A national rescue center in the Netherlands alerted the U.S. Coast Guard that the four crewmembers aboard OUTER LIMITS had reported they had struck a whale and were flooding. German-flagged container ship E.R.MELBOURNE was only 35 miles away and answered the call to rescue.
The second, on May 19, was the rescue of two people aboard S/V PETRA. PETRA was about 650 miles northeast of Bermuda, Azores-bound, when her crew sent out a call that their keel was loose, and later that they were taking on water and abandoning ship for their life raft. After RCC Denmark communicated this to the USCG, the USCG coordinated a rescue by POHJANMAA, a Finnish Naval ship, which was three hours away from PETRA.
The sailors of both OUTER LIMITS and PETRA were prepared with EPIRB’s and long-range communication equipment, which provided timely and accurate information, and safety equipment, which bought them time while awaiting rescue.