U.S. Mariners Rescue Distressed Sailors in Dramatic Rescue

Posted in California Maritime News,US Coast Guard (USCG) on February 10, 2012

Crew of Horizon Reliance

The Captain and crew of an 893-foot containership belonging to the Jones Act carrier Horizon Lines became instant heros early Wednesday morning after rescuing a family from their sinking vessel in the Pacific Ocean.

At approximately 1:30am on Wednesday, the U.S.-flagged Jones Act containership, Horizon Reliance, was alerted by Coast Guard that a family of 3, including a nine-year old boy, was adrift on their 33-foot sailboat with no power and sails shredded.  At the time, the vessel was on a rather routine journey carrying U.S. goods between Hawaii and the West Coast. But just 149 miles away, the Captain of the Horizon Reliance, Captain James Keller, answered the call and quickly diverted his vessel to the stranded sailors.

Conditions were heavy with 40 knot winds, sea swells in the 20-ft. range, and stinging rain. Not exactly favorable for a high-seas rescue. As they approached, a large wave capsized the vessel, throwing the men and boy into the water.

Luckily, the crew of the Horizon Reliance were able to rescue the victims, who were all wearing lifejackets and reportedly equipped with flashing lights.  The three sailors, and crew of the Horizon Reliance, escaped without injury and more importantly, alive.

Also luckily, Horizon Reliance, and most Horizon Lines’ vessels, are registered with the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, or AMVER. The USCG sponsored program coordinates high-seas rescues by diverting participating vessels to distressed seaman.

“We are thankful the Horizon Reliance was in the right place at the right time to come to the aid of these individuals,” said William A. Hamlin, Horizon Lines Senior Vice President of Operations. “We commend Captain Kelleher and his crew for their skilled seamanship in accomplishing a successful rescue despite very adverse weather conditions.”

“No rescue situation can be completely planned for, the sea is ever changing and unforgiving,” said Cmdr. Mark Morin, USCG District Response Manager. “The crew had life jackets with strobe lights on, which was critical in aiding to the Horizon Reliance to keep an eye on them and make the rescue.”

The incident proves that even routine activity can lead to disaster when dealing with the relentless forces of the open Ocean.  If you are a U.S. mariner that is injured due to someone else’s negligence, talk to a jones act lawyer today.