Score another save for the Automated Mutual Assistant Rescue System (AMVER), the global database that has been bailing out mariners in distress since 1958.
This week, a commercial ship dispatched by AMVER rescued a solo voyager about 700 miles off Cape Cod. The 34-foot Easy Go had lost its mainsail and was unable to make way, a situation made more uncomfortable by 15-to-20-foot seas and 40-knot winds.
As a Coast Guard Hercules plane crew took off from Maryland to locate the boat, watch standers also contacted vessels in the area to assist. Cue the vehicle carrier Bishu Highway and the bulk carrier Athina L, both of which changed course to locate Easy Go.
Bishu Highway arrived first but was unable to bring the sailor aboard due to the height of its hull, the Coast Guard reported. The freighter stayed on the scene for 14 hours, however, until the Liberian-flagged Athina L – an AMVER participant since 2011 – could do the job.
"This rescue demonstrates the power of partnerships," said Ben Strong, director of AMVER Maritime Relations. "The Coast Guard and the commercial shipping industry work together to ensure no call for help goes unanswered. We're proud of the crew of the Athina L and encourage all shipping companies to participate in AMVER."
At any given time there are more than 5,000 commercial vessels available through AMVER to provide search-and-rescue services worldwide. Participants in the voluntary program send position reports to the AMVER Center in West Virginia until arriving at their port of call, allowing rescue coordinators to divert the best-suited ship.
That saves time, money and lives – more than 2,800 since 2000, according to the Coast Guard.