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No Dogs. Please!

Jan 1, 2003

The dramatic and drawn-out rescue effort to save a captain's two-year-old pet dog from a drifting oil tanker in the Pacific has ended on a happy note.

A fire aboard the tanker Insiko 1907 killed one crewmember and left the ship without power March 13. Insiko had been drifting for almost three weeks when the crew of the disabled tanker were finally rescued by Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star on April 2, after her lookout observed a flare released by desperate Insiko seamen. But Insiko's captain Chung Chin Po left his dog, Forgea, aboard his drifting ship because, according to the Hawaiian Humane Society, he was not allowed to take her aboard Norwegian Star.

Insiko's Taiwanese captain expressed grave concern for the fate of Forgea and, at the request of the Hawaiian Humane Society (www.hawaiianhumane.org) and The Humane Society of the United States, American Marine Corporation's tug American Quest was dispatched from Honolulu April 5 to search for Insiko in an area 250 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island.

The search for the drifting tanker and Forgea was called off April 7 after almost 15,000 square miles of the Pacific had been searched without results. But just two days later, a Japanese fishing vessel reported seeing a drifting hulk and a new search was initiated, again by American Marine Corporation. This search also proved fruitless and hopes of finding Forgea alive dimmed.

Then, on April 20, a U.S. Coast Guard Hercules aircraft on another mission observed the drifting Insiko some 250 miles east of Johnston Atoll. The aircraft crew reported seeing a dog on deck, evidently still very much alive. On the 21st, a fishing vessel reached Insiko, boarded her and attempted to capture little Forgea. The dog, wary of the strangers, successfully evaded the men and ran below into the burned-out hulk. The would-be rescuers, feeling that entering the interior of the ship would be too dangerous, left the vessel without the dog.

It wasn't until April 26 that Forgea was finally caged and safely loaded aboard American Quest for the voyage back to Honolulu. Forgea, whose name in Mandarin means "good fortune," seems to have proven that old Chinese proverb: "Those who escape death in great disasters are surely destined for good fortune later."