Rescuer: “… we know he’s alive and we won’t give up!”

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Coast Guard Capt. Edward Marohn and Ben Strong, a representative from the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System, or AMVER, present the crew of the K. Coral with an AMVER pennant in New Haven, Connecticut, June 27, 2016. AMVER is a voluntary, worldwide search and rescue assistance program sponsored by the Coast Guard.

This is the third post in our series leading up to our annual Capitol Hill maritime lifesaving awards ceremony in Washington DC Sep. 26, telling the stories of lifesavers who went above and beyond in 2016 to save lives at sea.

The Amver participating ship K. Coral rescued 19 fishermen after they abandoned their burning vessel nearly 900 miles southeast of Bermuda in June 2016.

The Panamanian-flagged ship notified rescue personnel in Bermuda that they had spotted a large cloud of black smoke four miles from their position. The master of the K. Coral altered course and found a fishing vessel on fire with people in the water.

The Bermuda officials notified the U.S. Coast Guard who activated the Amver system and diverted two more ships, whose crews assisted in the search for people in the water.

“While we were hoisting the 17 people onto our ship, two people on a makeshift raft got separated from the group and drifted away,” said the captain of the K. Coral. The ships’ crews continued searching for the two remaining survivors for six hours.

Lookouts on the K. Coral spotted the last two people and hoisted the first survivor to safety, but lost sight of the second person in the darkness and heavy rain. “The final survivor is clinging to some debris so we know he’s alive and we won’t give up!” the captain of the K. Coral reported to Coast Guard authorities.

Two hours later, the last survivor, the master of the fishing vessel, was aboard the K. Coral. The crew of the K. Coral reported two of the survivors suffered third degree burns and were being treated in the ship’s hospital and that the K. Coral was sailing towards Bermuda so a helicopter could meet the ship and evacuate the injured survivors.

The K. Coral, now named EM Coral, is managed by SK Shipping Company Ltd. and enrolled in Amver on September 26, 2011, and has earned two Amver participation awards.