Commercial Ship Crews Rescue 45 in Atlantic, Mediterranean

We’re continuing to publish the stories of heroes we’re honoring at our Sep. 26 Capitol Hill maritime lifesaving awards ceremony in Washington DC. Here’s what the captains and crews of volunteer commercial ships did to earn Amver Special Awards this year!

Amver-participating vessels completed so many rescues during 2016 that the AFRAS Board of Directors decided that, in addition to the Amver Award for the EM Coral, two additional awards were merited for ship crews this year.

The tanker Orfeas’ crew rescued four French sailors from a disabled 50-foot sailboat in heavy seas more than 1,000 miles east of Puerto Rico in December.

The rescue operation started after authorities in Forte de France contacted U.S. Coast Guard personnel in San Juan about the disabled sailboat requesting assistance after their rudder failed.

U.S. rescue authorities utilized an Amver Surface Picture to locate and contact the 748-foot crude oil tanker, which was approximately 250 miles away from the sailboat. The captain of the Orfeas immediately agreed to divert and assist the sailors.

The Bahamian-flagged tanker was able to safely embark the four French yachtsmen despite 40-knot winds and 16-foot seas. The survivors were uninjured and remained on the Orfeas until it reached its next port of call in Gibraltar.

The Amver-participating bulk carrier Eastern Confidence rescued 41 migrants from a boat that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea in April.

The Philippines-flagged ship was alerted to the distress by the Greek Coast Guard and steamed to the distress location.

The BBC reported the migrants were on a voyage from Libya to Europe when they were transferred from one overloaded boat to another more-overcrowded boat. At some point, the wooden boat capsized, killing at least 500 people.

The 554-foot cargo ship embarked the survivors, mostly from Africa, and disembarked them in Greece.