Three Fishermen Rescued from Deserted Island by US Coast Guard and Navy

( – Three men who had been missing since March 30 after departing from Polowat Atoll, Micronesia, on a fishing excursion were rescued on April 9 by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). A U.S. Navy aircraft saw the word “help” spelled out with fronds from a palm tree and alerted the Coast Guard. The men, who were all over 40 years old, left the Micronesian municipality on a 20-foot skiff equipped with an outboard motor to fish near the island of Pikelot Atoll, which was around 100 miles away. Family members became worried once they were not heard from, although they were reportedly experienced navigators.

According to Fox News, Joint Rescue Sub-Center (JRSC) Guam began planning the search and rescue operations after the men were reported missing. After battling with uncooperative weather conditions, a Navy P-8 aircraft from Kadena Air Force Base in Japan joined in on the search along with the USCG’s Cutter Oliver Henry. The P-8 Poseidon located the men on Pikelot Atoll after they saw their sign and confirmed they were in good health. Coast Guard Lt. Chelsea Garcia said that the men using the palm leaves “was pivotal in guiding rescue efforts.”

While awaiting the Coast Guard’s rescue, the Navy aircraft dropped survival packages to the men. An HC-130J Hercules dropped a radio to the men so they could communicate with the Coast Guard. The men reported they had survived by drinking water from a well they found on the island and eating coconut meat. After a health examination by the Coast Guard, they were found to be only mildly dehydrated. The men were rescued by the Oliver Henry and returned to Polowat Atoll. Oliver Henry commanding officer Lt. Ray Cerrato said that the rescue operation “hits home the kind of difference we can make,” when describing the Coast Guard’s role as a protector of the islands’ resources and its effort to save lives.

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