KINGS POINT, N.Y., June 13, 2016 – A U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) midshipman assigned to the MV Maersk Kentucky as a Deck Cadet during his Sea Year helped the crew, including two alumni, rescue 11 Pakistani fishermen, who were adrift for ten days at sea, May 29.
Midshipmen 2nd Class Joseph Mugno joined Kings Pointers, Chief Mate, Brandt Hager ’00 and Second Mate, Dylan Carrara ’09, sailing the over 290 meter and 60,000 deadweight ton container vessel.
While underway in the Indian Ocean, the MV Maersk Kentucky received a VHF radio distress call from the fishing vessel Al Yasmeen. “Boat is sinking! Taking on water!” came the call in broken English from the fishing vessel located approximately six nautical miles away.
Captain John O’Boyle, Master of MV Maersk Kentucky, was called to the bridge, and after a very broken VHF channel exchange, determined that the vessel could be in distress.
“When I came up to the bridge for the 1200x1600 bridge watch, the Captain was at the conn, the security team and all the watch officers were on the bridge,” described Mugno. “The ship was slowly maneuvering towards the sinking fishing vessel.”
They sighted the fishing vessel and found it to be down by the stern. As the ship maneuvered close to the sinking vessel to observe the extent of the emergency, a small dingy was launched from the fishing vessel and was paddled toward the container ship.
The MV Maersk Kentucky stopped and maintained a position upwind of the fishing vessel. When it was determined that the five men in a small dinghy were not armed or threatening, they were allowed to board the vessel via the pilot ladder.
Mugno continued, “we began drifting closer to the fishing vessel when three fishermen jumped in the water and began swimming towards our vessel, and also boarded via the pilot ladder. Once our vessel was alongside, the three remaining fishermen were able to safely leave their sinking boat and board our vessel.”
Once the fishermen were aboard, the mariners followed the proper security protocol. Mugno said, “our crew found out that the fishermen had been adrift for ten days, out of food for six days and out of water for four days. After hearing this we were all glad that the fishermen were still alive.”
“It was great how smooth the rescue went,” Mugno said. “Everyone just did what they had to do to make sure we were able to rescue the fisherman.”
The MV Maersk Kentucky is a participant in the U.S. Coast Guard Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) program, which uses commercial ships to perform search and rescue where there are no traditional search and rescue resources. “We are proud of our commercial partners and grateful for the lifesaving service they provide,” said Benjamin Strong, AMVER director.
By Maersk Line, Limited, and Cmdr. Benjamin Benson, USMS