The combined efforts of a Greek Amver tanker and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma saved the lives of two sailors in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday July 6, 2011.
The two male sailors, a 70 year old and his 35 year old companion, were on a journey from Bay St. Louis, Miss. to Guatemala in a 30 foot sailboat when they suffered rudder damage 180 miles east of Key West, Fla.
Amver to the rescue
Using the Amver system, Coast Guard rescue authorities identified the Greek tanker Petalouda, managed by the Samos Steamship Company of Athens, Greece. The Patalouda was only 40 miles away from the drifting sailboat. The captain of the Patalouda turned the 598 foot tanker towards the distress location and ordered the crew to prepare for rescue operations. While the Bahamian flagged tanker was en route, the Coast Guard launched a C-130 search aircraft from Air Station Clearwater and requested the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma to sail towards the scene.
Going down with the ship?
The Patalouda arrived on scene and launched a small boat to assess the situation on the sailboat. After determining the rudder could not be fixed the younger sailor was taken aboard the tanker. The 70 year old absolutely refused to come off the sailboat, refused to talk with rescue authorities on the radio, and cut the tow line between his boat and the Amver ship. Rescue authorities allowed the Patalouda to depart the scene with the younger survivor and sail to their next port of call in New Orleans.
Coast Guard, on scene!
Several hours later the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma, with the assistance of the search aircraft, located the sailboat and took it in tow. The 70 year old sailor was convinced to board the Tahoma and was given a medical examination and food. The Tahoma towed the sailboat to Key West, Fla. where the boat was moored and the survivor disemabarked.
Photo credit: Samos Steamship Company