Stranded French sailor rescued

Sailor
Courtesy USCG
The sloop Saturn, which sank in the mid-Atlantic.

Crew aboard a Turkish containership rescued a French sailor whose yacht, Saturn, struck a submerged object some 1,000 miles from the U.S. mainland.

The sailor, who was not identified, abandoned Saturn for his dinghy after the sailboat started flooding on or about July 17. The Turkish-flagged Nevzat Kalkavan and two other ships, Hellas Reefer and STI Seneca, diverted to help the mariner. All three are enrolled in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER).

Nevzat Kalkavan responded to the call for assistance from the Coast Guard and arrived on scene to hoist the French sailor aboard,” said Ben Strong, director of the AMVER system, which is run through the U.S. Coast Guard. “The sailor was uninjured and will stay aboard the Kalkavan until it arrives at its next port of call in Spain.”

Little is known about the French sailor or his destination. It’s also not clear what object his vessel hit and when the impact occurred. The sailor somehow got word to his “significant other,” who in turn contacted French authorities, according to Strong.

“The USCG received word from Rescue Coordination Center Gris Nez (French) on 17 July,” he said. “At 0601 hours UTC, the French received an email from the significant other of the rescued sailor.”

“The USCG began calling and diverting AMVER ships at 0640 ZULU time on the 17th,” Strong continued. “The survivor was aboard the AMVER ship at 1109 ZULU for an elapsed time of just under five hours.”

Weather at the scene of the rescue was reported as winds of 15 knots and waves of 3 to 5 feet.

Based on average transit speeds of 12 to 18 knots, Strong estimated Nevzat Kalkavan was at least 50 miles away from the French sailor. The ship was due to arrive at a Spanish port on July 23, at which time the Frenchman would disembark. Saturn is believed to have sunk.

Given the remote location of the emergency, the sailor could have “perished at sea” without assistance from the merchant ships, said Lt. Daniel Dunn, command duty officer for the Fifth Coast Guard District command center in Virginia.