A fisherman was saved by a passing navy ship after being found clinging to a plastic cooler lid in the middle of the ocean.
The fisherman was spotted ten miles out to sea by a crew member standing on the bridge of a passing ship who noticed the sea wasn’t looking as calm as usual.
“I noticed what looked like someone waving their arms, which is the signal for distress in the water,” watercraft engineer Sergeant Seth Leonard told local news.
“I grabbed my binoculars to see if my eyes were playing tricks on me and that’s when I saw someone about 1.5 miles directly in front of us.”
Another crew member confirmed Sergeant Leonard’s sighting and the crew jumped into action.
Remarkably, the fisherman had been clinging to a plastic cooler lid about the size of a boogie board for hours after his boat capsized ten miles from land.
“I’m pretty sure that lid is what kept him alive,” said Sergeant Leonard.
Sergeant Leonard had been aboard the 174 ft-long vessel USAV Palo Alto, travelling from Japan to Australia, which was carefully steered towards the distressed man.
The crew then worked to quickly pull the fisherman from the water and then gave the man dry clothes, food, and water, using Google Translate to communicate.
As soon as the Indonesian man, who is now home and safe, was onboard, he was taken to the ship’s medic, Kirsty Moore, who performed a routine examination which only found the man was hungry, thirsty, lethargic, as well as relieved and grateful.
“We practice these drills regularly; we literally train for this specific situation,” said The vessel’s skipper, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Cordero. “At that point, saving the man overboard became our number one priority and everyone just kicked into action.”
Although none of the crew would have imagined they would save a man’s life when they woke up that morning, as Mariners they were well-trained for the rescue.
“As mariners, that’s one of our duties, we have the obligation to save a life if there is someone in distress,” said Cordero. “I’m really proud of how the crew reacted. Everyone demonstrated they are professional mariners.”
The US Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, sent an Indonesian navy ship to collect the man. The Indonesian Navy then presented the US Mariner crew with a plaque to say thank you for rescuing one of their country’s men.
The rescue mission by the US Army Mariners occurred on September 1, off the western coast of Obi Island in Indonesia.
Just a couple of weeks earlier, a man was rescued, and then arrested, just off Georgia after attempting to cross the Atlantic in a human-sized hamster wheel.
In August another man was rescued off Long Island after five hours of treading water.