Horizon Producer Rescues Stranded Fishermen


April 2011

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On the morning of Jan. 29, 2011, the SIU-contracted Horizon Producer departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, en route to Jacksonville, Fla., on what the crew thought would be a routine trip. However, the routine turned to excitement when the mariners saw two stranded fishermen adrift in the water several hundred miles off the Puerto Rican coast.

 

According to Electrician Angel Hernandez, during the afternoon, he noticed that the Producer was veering off course. Investigating, Hernandez found that a serious situation was developing. A mariner on wheel watch observed something unusual in the water. As the vessel got closer, the crew realized that they had an emergency on their hands. Two men in a small boat were flailing their arms, seemingly desperate for someone to notice them.

 

The Producer made its way towards the craft, which turned out to be an 18-foot fishing boat. Because of the disparity in size between the vessels the Producer couldn’t get close enough without its wake causing the smaller boat to float even farther away. The Producer then sent out a line which the fishermen tied to their boat.

 

The two fishermen were pulled in and climbed aboard. The crew provided them with water, food, and medical attention as they listened to their story.

 

The fishermen had been stranded in shark-infested waters for three days. Apparently, the men were on a short fishing trip off the coast of Aguadilla, P.R., when they got caught in a minor squall. They ran out of fuel and, worse yet, began taking on water. And to add to the terror, at one point a whale emerged nearby and nearly overturned the boat. Their rescue by the SIU crew, to the fishermen and their families, was an act of extreme heroism and bravery. But to the crew, it was all part of the code that all mariners live by.

 

“That’s the way of a seaman’s life,” said Hernandez. “If you see somebody in danger, that’s your first obligation: to save another’s life. We all knew it was part of our duty.”

 

The two fishermen called their families from aboard the ship, causing an emotional scene. The Producer continued on to Jacksonville, where the fishermen were given further medical attention and then were returned home. For Hernandez, providing assistance to the stranded men was the only possible option.

 

“It’s a thing of honor,” said Hernandez. “It’s the unwritten rule of the sea. If we see somebody in distress, we try to save them. It’s an obligation to humanity to do anything you can to help another human being.”

 

SIU members aboard the ship at the time of the rescue were Recertified Bosun Paul Dornes, AB Kurt Bruer, AB Frank Hamm III, AB Curtis Dunlap, Sr., AB Hector Barnes, AB James Rush, Jr., AB Angelo Wilcox, Sr., AB Jackie Jones, AB Jack Gainers, Electrician John Walsh, GUDE Aresha Rivers, Oiler Milton Israel, Oiler Ramon Corretjer, Oiler Terry Harmon, Oiler Guiomar Rancel, Steward Baker Jerome Jordan, Chief Cook Juan Vallejo Hernandez, SA Dietre Jackson, SA Duane Washington, Apprentice Jatniel Aguilera Santiago, Apprentice Khadim Robinson, Apprentice Frances Bautista and Apprentice Nathan Graddick.


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Horizon Producer Rescue

One of the stranded fishermen is helped aboard.

 

Horizon Producer Rescue

A view of the stranded fishermen from aboard the Horizon Producer.