Beach SOS Leads to Rescue of Sailors Stranded on Pacific Isle

Aug 4, 2020 | Asia, Australia, GOV, NEWS

by AFP

A photo taken by the Australian Defense Force shows an army ARH Tiger helicopter landing near the letters “SOS” on Pikelot Island

Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a tiny island in the remote Western Pacific were rescued after Australian and US warplanes spotted a giant “SOS” they had scrawled on the beach, officials said.

The Australian Defense Force said it found the men Sunday on tiny Pikelot Island, about 190 kilometers (115 miles) from where they set sail three days earlier.

The men blew off course and ran out of fuel in a seven-meter (23-foot) skiff between two of the 600-plus islands and atolls that make up Micronesia. 

Location of Pikelot Island

Map locating Pikelot island where three stranded Micronesian sailors were rescued after they scrawled a giant SOS on the beach

Alerted by the Pacific Rescue and Coordination Center in Guam, US and Australian military aircraft joined the search for the missing vessel and spotted their SOS message Sunday.

A helicopter dispatched from Australia‘s HMAS Canberra flew to the island with food and water and found the three men in good condition.

SOS on Pikelot Island

The Micronesian sailors were rescued after a search party spotted a giant SOS they had scrawled on the beach

A Micronesia patrol vessel was then sent to recover the men, the Australian Defense Force said.