By Mark Edward Nero
A 29-year-old man arrived in good condition in Honolulu aboard a US Coast Guard small boat on May 4 after surviving a two-month ordeal at sea on a disabled skiff and then being rescued by merchant mariners in the southeastern Pacific Ocean.
A Coast Guard 45-foot response boat-medium crew from Station Honolulu transported the man from Panamanian-flagged, 618-foot bulk carrier Nikkei Verde offshore of Honolulu to the Coast Guard base the morning of May 4 in stable condition.
According to the survivor, he and three companions set out from Colombia more than two months earlier, and once the skiff’s engine became disabled, they went adrift.
He said he caught and ate fish and seagulls to stay alive. The three other men reportedly died at sea; their bodies were not aboard the skiff when located by the Nikkei Verde’s crew; however, the survivor did surrender their passports to officials.
“This mariner had great fortitude and is very fortunate the crew of the Nikkei Verde happened upon him as the area he was in is not heavily trafficked,” said Lt. Cmdr. John MacKinnon, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center chief with the Coast Guard 14th District.
Joint Rescue Coordination Center watch standers in Honolulu received notification April 26 from the master of the Nikkei Verde, reporting while on their voyage to China his crew had located a man stranded at sea aboard a 23-foot skiff. They brought him aboard and requested medical advice and assistance to return the man to his home country.
Although the Coast Guard assisted in the man’s rescue, it said it is not investigating the case, as the circumstances fall outside Coast Guard purview.