With 30-ft. swells in fierce seas and with 40 mile an hour winds buffeting their efforts, the M/V Horizon Falcon crew performed a rescue of two Chinese seafarers 375 miles northwest of Guam, Horizon Lines Inc. reported following a review of the Falcon's Master's Log. The rescue effort took place over a 24 hour period on July 12 and 13.
The Horizon Falcon, a newly-constructed 2,824 TEU containership in the Horizon Lines fleet, responded to a request by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam to divert for a distress call from a log carrier, HAI TONG No. 7. The 420-ft. Panamanian-flagged ship had 22 Chinese crewmembers on board. It sank after encountering rough seas due to a typhoon in the area. Survivors were in the water for two days when the Horizon Falcon arrived at the scene before noon on July 12.
Captain Tom McDorr of the HORIZON FALCON navigated rough seas strife
with logs and other debris from the sunken ship
to bring the 722-ft. FALCON into safe recovery distance. The crew used a lifeboat and the ship's portside pilots' ladder to attempt a rescue of the distressed seafarers.
According to Captain McDorr's log, a lifeboat with three seamen under the command of Chief Mate Kevin McCarthy, was dispatched with 18-20ft swells and waves impacting from every direction. One survivor was rescued, but as the lifeboat was being recovered, a large swell descended on the lifeboat, knocking the craft to a 45degree angle and damaging the motor. The crew was ordered to abandon the lifeboat and climbed to safety with the survivor up the containership's 40 foot pilot's ladder. A second survivor was rescued by ABS J. Dacaug, who while harnessed to the pilot's ladder descended toward the water. While being submerged by swells, ABS Dacaug attached a grappling hook to the survivor before both were winched clear of the sea to safety.
With flares from an Okinawa-based Navy P3 Orion 225 airplane providing some light from above, the Horizon Falcon continued searching for survivors and was eventually joined by the M/V Coral Emerald. The Horizon ship ran a search pattern in the area for four more hours until morning. A USCG Buoy Tender from Guam arrived at the scene to assist and relieve the Horizon Falcon, which was running low on fuel.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search operation for survivors of the HAI TONG No.7 on July 15 after 13 survivors of the 22-man crew had been rescued.
Arriving in Yantian, China, the vessel's destination, the two rescued seamen reported to local media crews that they were very well cared for on board the FALCON. Representatives of the government of China were on hand to express their deep appreciation for the efforts of the FALCON captain and crew.
The United States Coast Guard Amver offices in New York City also recognized the efforts of the Falcon crew. "These actions are to be commended and do not go unnoticed. Your willingness to participate in the Amver system is testimony to ensuring that no call for help goes unansweredŠ This underscores your commitment to safety at sea," said Benjamin M. Strong, Director of Marketing, Amver Maritime Relations, U.S. Coast Guard.