When it comes to deep water search and rescue, most people probably have the image of a Coast Guard helicopter hoisting sailors from an in-distress sailboat. An equally important part of search and rescue, however, is the merchant vessels that participate in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) system. Ocean-going commercial vessels sign up to participate in AMVER, the Coast Guard monitors the positions of AMVER ships and when assistance at sea is needed, it calls on the nearest AMVER participant, which changes course and steams toward a stricken vessel.
Included below is the account from a Crowley Maritime vessel named Ocean Crescent that recently diverted to assist a 55-foot dismasted catamaran, Rainmaker. All voyagers should be grateful these professionals are available to render assistance.
"The crew of the Crowley-managed, 393-foot, heavy lift vessel Ocean Crescent recently provided assistance to five people aboard the damaged and drifting catamaran Rainmaker during a routine transit from Progresso, Mexico, to Halifax, Canada. Following a message from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to render assistance, if possible, the Crowley crew onboard diverted the Ocean Crescent approximately 20 nautical miles to the west where they found Rainmaker stranded with two inoperable engines and a broken mast, which had penetrated the forward port window and destroyed the vessel’s navigational equipment.
"First on scene, Ocean Crescent approached Rainmaker, pulled alongside and shielded the 55-foot sailboat from seas reaching six meters. The crew also relayed communications from the inbound USCG helicopter and search plane to the sailboat’s uninjured occupants, both of which arrived on scene about an hour after the Ocean Crescent. Once each of the sailboat’s occupants was loaded onto the helicopter, USCG dismissed Ocean Crescent from the scene, thanking the Crowley mariners for their assistance.
"Crowley crewmembers continue to be respected leaders in the maritime industry not just because of how they professionally conduct themselves during routine operations, but also for the ways in which they safely and compassionately conduct themselves in nearly any situation,” said Mike Golonka, vice president, ship management. “We continue to be among the most sought-after international vessel management companies in the world and it is undoubtedly in large part due to our outstanding crewmembers.”
"Upon its release, the captain and crew resumed their initial duties, righted Ocean Crescent on its original route and continued towards Canada for cargo delivery. Captain Bill Swiss was assisted on the bridge that day by Jonathan Nadeau, second mate; Seadon Jackson, third mate and Jose Panlilio, A/B. In the engine room were Glenn Barilik, chief engineer and Don Howe, first engineer. On the deck were Jonathan Odell, chief mate; Kyle Schultz, bosun; A/Bs Ion Boros and Durlas Ruiz; Ryan Brummeler, third engineer; Tomas Merel, QMED; Marcus Arriola, oiler; Alec Dinh, deck cadet and Timothy Scaffidi, engine cadet."