By Wendy Osher
The US Coast Guard provided assistance in rescuing 10 mariners from a 60-foot voyaging canoe that sunk in waters about 100 miles northeast of Palau on Monday, March 4, 2013.
A crew member aboard the vessel used a satellite phone to contact officials at Palau Community College to inform them that the vessel was breaking apart and sinking at around 6:30 a.m. Chamorro Time, authorities said.
The vessel had 10 people aboard including students from Palau Community College. The crews was comprised of two Americans, seven citizens of Palau, and one Japanese citizen.
Officials say the traditional sailing canoe was traveling from Palau to the outer islands of Yap State, in the Federated States of Micronesia when the incident occurred.
Coast Guard officials say they launched the 110-foot Cuter Washington to assist in the rescue, and requested aircraft support from the US Navy’s Combined Task Force 72 in Japan, and assistance from a Panamanian-flagged vessel the Hyundai Unity that was in the vicinity of the distress call.
Authorities say the crew of the Hyundai Unity began the process of rescuing crew members at 11:32 a.m. The Washington’s crew then arrived on scene to assist with the safe transfer of the 10 canoeists to Palau.
“This successful response was greatly assisted by the foresight and planning of the vessel crew, who filed a detailed float plan prior to departing, and maintained a full suite of lifesaving equipment, including a satellite telephone and personal flotation devices for each person aboard,” said Coast Guard officials in a media statement following the incident.