U.S., Australian Forces Rescue Island Castaways by Chance

A search team rescued a group of castaways from a tiny Pacific island after their fishing boat sank. The searchers, made up of military and coast guard units from the U.S., Australia, and Micronesia, discovered the three missing fishermen after noticing the letters SOS written on the white sandy beach. The men airdropped supplies and eventually rescued the castaways by boat.

The incident began when the U.S. Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Sub-Center Guam received notification of an overdue fishing boat. On July 29, the boat had set off for a 21-mile voyage between islands 400 miles southeast of Guam, but never arrived.

The Coast Guard, according to the Maritime Executive, activated a full-scale search. A Coast Guard HC-130 search plane was scrambled from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, 4,000 miles away from the search area. HMAS Canberra, an amphibious assault ship belonging to the Royal Australian Navy, was in the area and was alerted, as was the Federated States of Micronesia patrol boat FSS Independence. A Hawaii Air National Guard KC-135 Stratotanker located on Guam took off to assist in the search.

“We were toward the end of our search pattern,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Palmeira-Yen, the KC-135 pilot, explained. “We turned to avoid some rain showers, and that’s when we looked down and saw an island, so we decide to check it out, and that’s when we saw SOS and a boat right next to it on the beach. From there, we called in the Australian Navy because they had two helicopters nearby that could assist and land on the island.”

Here's video of the rescue:

Source: Popular Mechanics.


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