Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 23 seconds.
U.S. and Australian military forces, including helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, helped locate and rescue the three-person crew of a skiff that had been missing for nearly three days in Micronesia.
The men were found on August 2 in good condition on tiny Pikelot Island, 190km west of where they had set off in their seven-metre vessel on July 30, according to the Australian Defence Force.
As if straight from a Hollywood shipwreck movie, the castaways scrawled a large “SOS” message in the island’s sandy beach. Rescue crews spotted the signal from the air and were able to direct recovery assets to their location.
The Australian Defence Force was asked for search-and-rescue support by the Rescue and Coordination Centre in Guam on the afternoon of August 1.
Australian aircraft, including Tiger Armed Recon Helicopters, flew from the HMAS Canberra, part of Task Group 635.3 conducting a Regional Presence Deployment.
Canberra was returning to Australia while the rest of the task group continued on its way to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) off Hawaii.
The ship sailed overnight to reach the search area, and in cooperation with U.S. aircraft operating out of Guam, located the men on the island.
Crew of 1st Aviation Regiment, in an Army Tiger ARH, landed on the beach, delivered food and water, confirmed the men’s identities and checked they had no major injuries.
U.S. National Guard personnel from the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard (ANG) and the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Pennsylvania ANG flying a KC-135 helped locate the three missing mariners on Pikelot Island Aug. 2, 2020.