A member of congress recently hit the deck to salute the Seafarers-crewed Horizon Reliance.
On Feb. 1, U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele (D-Hawaii) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives about a rescue performed by the ship’s crew. He named all three shipboard unions involved, including the SIU.
“Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the men and women of the crew of the U.S.-flag commercial ship Horizon Reliance, sailing out of Honolulu and operated by third-generation, family-owned Pasha Hawaii,” Kahele said. “On the evening of November 6, 2020 – over 1,000 miles northeast of O’ahu – a private turbo-prop plane with two individuals on board was en route from California to Honolulu before suffering an engine casualty. As a pilot myself – with thousands of hours logged in both military and commercial passenger aircraft – believe me when I say that this is the worst possible scenario in aviation: to be in the middle of the ocean, 1,000 miles from the closest land, in the middle of the night when your one and only engine fails.”
The congressman continued, “As water rapidly filled the cabin, the two pilots managed to escape the aircraft, clambering into their life raft and called the Honolulu Coast Guard Search and Rescue center via satellite phone. “With 8-10-foot seas and 30-knot winds on scene, the Coast Guard realized the gravity of the situation and quickly dispatched a mayday alert calling out for volunteer commercial ships to lend aid, as the distance from shore prevented a search-and-rescue helicopter operation. Due to the hazardous conditions, the first ship to arrive on scene was unable to rescue the desperately heaving life raft, but was able to remain on scene rendering a glimmer of hope for the crash survivors.”
The Horizon Reliance arrived soon thereafter and “expertly commenced a small-boat operation to retrieve the survivors,” Kahele said. “Cautiously maneuvering the vessel under arduous conditions, the men and women of the Horizon Reliance – union members of the Masters, Mates and Pilots; Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association; and Seafarers International Unions – recovered the pilots aboard the vessel and brought them to safety.”
He concluded, “I cannot overstate how truly close this incident came to tragedy; the lives of these two aircraft crash survivors, their families and friends were forever changed due to the actions of the crew of the Horizon Reliance that fateful evening. It speaks even more to the dedication and devotion to duty of the mariners of the U.S. merchant fleet – the brave men and women who carry goods across the globe in support of the U.S military, as well as humanitarian food-aid, research cargo to Antarctica and countless other missions in support of our country.”
The Horizon Reliance also received accolades last year during the annual Admiral of the Ocean Sea event in New York, conducted by the United Seamen’s Service.