Thursday, February 9, 2012

Amver container ship rescues 3 Canadians in dramatic Pacific rescue

Three Canadians, including a nine year old boy, were rescued by the Amver participating container ship Horizon Reliance after their 38 foot sailboat Liahona sank 280 miles northeast of Hilo, Hawaii Wednesday February 8, 2012. The three survivors are from Edmonton, Canada.

The sailors, on a voyage from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Hilo, Hawaii, contacted the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska Tuesday afternoon after their sailboat became disabled. The crew reported damage to their top forestay and engine. After trying to rig a makeshift sail they lost the mast in the extreme conditions.

Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu, using an Amver surface pictures (SURPIC), contacted the 893 foot container ship and asked them to divert to assist the crew of the Liahona. The Horizon Reliance was 149 miles away from the sailboat's location.

At approximately 2:00 am Wednesday morning, Captain James Kelleher and the crew of the United States flagged ship reached the sailboat. As the Horizon Reliance approached, a swell caused the sailboat to capsize and sink, throwing all three passengers in the sea. Weather conditions were poor, with southwesterly winds gusting to 40 knots and sea swells in the 20 foot range.

The Horizon Reliance crew lowered a ladder to conduct the rescue. A 29 year-old-man was rescued first, but the others, a 32-year-old man, and a 9-year-old boy, drifted away. Both were rescued shortly thereafter because they were wearing lifejackets with strobe lights attached, which enabled rescuers to keep them in sight.

"We are thankful the Horizon Reliance was in the right place at the right time to come to the aid of these individuals," said William A. Hamlin, Horizon Lines Senior Vice President of Operations. "We commend Captain Kelleher and his crew for their skilled seamanship in accomplishing a successful rescue despite very adverse weather conditions."

All three were reportedly in good health and will remain aboard the Horizon Reliance until it arrives in Hilo, Hawaii at approximately 4:00 am local Hawaii time.

The Horizon Reliance, managed by Horizon Lines of Charlotte, NC, enrolled in Amver in 1990 and has earned participation awards for 21 years.

Photo credit: crew of the Horizon Reliance

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