Mariners aboard the SIU-crewed Golden State (Intrepid Personnel and Provisioning) recently saved two individuals who’d been adrift for four days with limited food and water – and with a tropical storm approaching.
The rescue took place Aug. 14, approximately 145 nautical miles west of Key West, Florida. “The AMO and SIU men and women crew members aboard the Golden State did a remarkable job in finding and rescuing these two mariners,” said vessel master Capt. Ervin L. Curtis.
SIU members aboard the Golden State during the rescue included Recertified Bosun Timothy Jackson, ABs Kervin Guevara, Javier Valencia, Maria Carranza, Shantaz Harper and Christopher Green, QEP Michael Durago, QE4 Noah Hughes, Steward/Baker Antajuan Beasley, Chief Cook Marco Guevara, GVA Dennis Lucas and SA Antwon Norris.
Bosun Jackson, a Seafarer since 1990, said the rescue proved challenging, starting with difficulty spotting the distressed boaters.
“We couldn’t see them for a while but we kept them on the radio,” Jackson stated. “The chief mate finally spotted them.”
He continued, “The captain had to get the ship slowed and we had to gradually come up on them. We rigged pilot ladders and got a heaving line. We tossed it and they finally got close enough to us. They were strong enough to climb the ladder and oh, they were glad to be rescued! The Coast Guard picked them up that night, and it’s a good thing we got them when we did. The seas had picked up quite a bit.”
Jackson concluded, “Everybody did a good job. We got them back to safety, and that was a good thing.”
Capt. Curtis provided the following summary (along with photos):
At approximately 0652 on 14 August, 2021 the Golden State was transiting the Gulf of Mexico bound for Cape Henlopen, DE with a full load of crude oil. The Mate on watch Jessica Faltings received a MAYDAY call in Spanish on CH 16 from a small craft called the Three Musketeers. The Mate on watch responded to the call on CH 16 and two Spanish-speaking ABs, Javier Valencia and Kervin Guevara, were able to gather information on the small craft.
It was determined that the small craft was adrift, though the position could not be determined as all navigational equipment aboard the small craft had failed. The Mate on watch called the Captain who immediately came to the bridge. The Captain instructed the 2nd Mate to hail USCG Key West via Satellite phone. The vessel was placed into hand steering and slowed to maneuvering speed.
The 2nd Mate Kenneth Estes attempted to contact the Coast Guard via Satellite phone on the emergency line for Sector Key West. All Hands were called to look for the stricken vessel and at 0716 the small craft was sighted in position Lat: 24-33.177N Long: 084-20.808W. At 0740 USCG Sector Key West was reached via SAT phone and the information gathered by the crew was relayed. The Master maneuvered the Golden State alongside the 26-foot sport fisherman; the sport fisherman did have slight reversing propulsion which aided in getting it near enough for the Chief Mate, deck and engine crews in getting heaving lines to the stricken vessel.
A port lee was made by the Master to calm the seas, estimated at about 12 to 14 feet. At 0818 the ship’s engine was stopped, and the small craft was secured alongside to the Golden State at 0831. The small craft was in position Lat: 24-38.107N Long: 084-24.078W approximately 85 miles west of Dry Tortugas and 145 nautical miles west of Key West Florida. A line was then lowered to the small craft with life jackets attached. The CM Scott Anderson verbally confirmed with the two people aboard that they were well enough to climb the pilot ladder. At 0832 both people boarded the Golden State. 0832 the Small craft Three Musketeers released (cut loose) in position Lat: 24-38.169N Long: 084-24.082W. At 0835 the Golden State resumed her voyage for Cape Henlopen, DE, with final destination of Marcus Hook, PA. 0900 the engine load program up was set to NAV Full Ahead. 0912 Crowley Operations Port Captain Callahan in Jacksonville, Florida, was notified of the situation.
Weather conditions were rough, and the sport fisherman was difficult to locate. With the approaching tropical storm, the survivors were very lucky to have been spotted and picked up by the Golden State’s crew. The two male survivors were extremely thankful to the Golden State’s crew for rescuing them in rough seas.
The survivors reported that they had been adrift four days with food and water running very low. They reported some ships had passed them by without stopping (understandable, as the Golden State’s crew didn’t see them until they were about a mile away in the rough seas). Another ship had made contact with the small craft but told them it was too rough to pick them up. That ship proceeded on her voyage, and there is no confirmation that the small craft’s position was reported to authorities.
With tropical storm Fred expected to pass by the small craft’s position in less than 24 hours, it is likely the situation could have been a much worse outcome for these mariners. They were given medical attention, hot food, spare crew cabins to rest, and a chance to clean up after their four days adrift.
After discussions with USCG Sector Key West, a plan was developed to make a rendezvous with a USCG Key West boat at the Key West sea buoy to transfer these mariners safely ashore. At 20:42 in darkness, the mariners were transferred to the USCG. Weather conditions included strong winds and rain with seas 8 to 9 feet at Key West. The USCG Sector Key West boat crew’s performance was excellent, under less than favorable sea conditions. Very good planning and teamwork between the Golden State and USCG Key West. Very professional and a super job by the USCG.
The AMO and SIU men and women crew members aboard the Golden State did a remarkable job in finding and rescuing these two mariners. As Captain it was my call to start the search and rescue, but there is no doubt I could not have done it without help from these professional mariners.
Captain Ervin L. Curtis
M/T Golden State