A Rescue at Sea- A Holiday Blessing (I Hope)

While the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is still continuing with its Maritime Environmental Protection Committee “MEPC79” meetings, now held in person, I was struck by a very cheery maritime happening that occurred this past week. So rather than write about Carbon Intensity Indicators (CII), Energy Efficiency Design Indices (EEDI), carbon capture, Green Corridors, or my usual IMO fare, I wanted to highlight a rescue at sea. Readers around the New York area would almost certainly seen, or heard about it, on radio or TV news. For those further afield…maybe not.

The tanker SILVER MUNA (49,000 dwt. chemical tanker, blt 2016, Hong Kong flag, operated by Fleet Management Ltd), on a voyage from Netherlands into New York, improbably found (and then rescued), a pair of sailors, along with the ship’s dog, lost for nearly two weeks, drifting in the stormy Atlantic in their dis-masted and otherwise disabled sailboat. They had been on a voyage from southern New Jersey, where winter is closing in, down to sunny and balmy Florida Keys- where their boat would then ride out the winter. They had made it part of the way down, and even pulled into North Carolina for re-provisioning, before a storm raging off the infamous Cape Hatteras whacked their vessel the ATREVIDA II,  as they continued their journey, taking down the mast of the 30’ sloop,  in the process. At the mercy of the wind and the waves, they drifted up towards the Delaware coast, with little in the way of provisions, and no more power to alert those who might be searching for them, after they were reported missing.

At the IMO, when a delegate gets up to speak, it is called “an intervention,” in IMO-speak (a language all its own). Normally I keep another type of interventions, those of the heavenly variety, out of these articles. However, the rules will be broken this time. I can report that the Master of SILVER MUNA,  Neeraj Chaudhary, said, “When I completed the rescue operation, I was literally crying. I was thanking my God they are safe and Mr. Joe, I think he has cried 10 times on ship…” As described in news accounts, the rescue was difficult, with the two sailboaters eventually scooped up in a cargo net hooked up to a crane on the tanker. One of the boaters said, “”It was a small miracle that we were even able to be found at all,” while the other (the aforementioned Mr. Joe) said, “All I said to the Lord was to see my granddaughter.”

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), aided by assets from the U.S. Navy, had conducted an extensive search; the Captain of the Port in New York told media: “It was a massive rescue effort with a search over 21,000 square miles of ocean. That’s over half the size of New York.” The actual rescue occurred more than 200 miles from shore, way out in the Atlantic. The rescued men praised the diligence of the tanker’s crew- who had spotted the impaired sailboat and then pulled closer to investigate. So, with Holidays on readers’ minds, hopefully this accounting will bring a smile, and a recognition that there is more to shipping than digitalization and decarbonization (which I will probably get back to in the next week). Happy Holidays to everyone out there reading this.