Capsized vessel’s Salvation shows the value of float-free EPIRBs

25 April 2018

The Rescue Coordination Centre of NZ organised the rescue of four lucky fishermen whose catamaran CFV Salvation capsized at 3 am this morning, in large swells almost 50 kilometres north-east of American Samoa.

The four people on board perched on the 10 metre fishing vessel’s upturned hull and huddled together in the cold until daybreak. In the morning light, the catamaran's owner swam under the capsized vessel and retrieved its EPIRB locator beacon which he then set off.

RCCNZ received the beacon alert from the vessel at 7am this morning, and worked closely with local rescue services to direct them to the location. A Police patrol boat from Pago Pago, which was carrying out training at the time, quickly responded to the request and was on the scene in 45 minutes. They found the people in the water and returned them safely to land. All four are in good health.

“If there’s anything to learn from this situation it’s that boat owners should consider a float-free EPIRB. They detach when boats sink and alert rescuers to your location,” said Search and Rescue Officer Drew Coleman.

“It helped that these people had also registered their beacon. It meant that when we received their alert we knew key details – such as who owned the vessel and their emergency contact details – that helped us speed up this rescue and save their lives,” said Drew.

RCCNZ is responsible for a search and rescue region which covers 30 million square km - stretching from Antarctica almost to the equator.

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