He was sinking after breaking the mast. German sailor rescued by an Italian tanker

German sailor rescuedAn 81-year-old German solo sailor, who was sinking after breaking his mast 400 miles south of Long Island (New York) with his 36-foot ketch Katharina, was rescued by the Italian tanker Mare Picenum.


The U.S. Coast Guard received a report at 4:52 a.m. on 16 June that the boat was at the mercy of 35-knot winds and waves of almost two metres and was taking on water, and immediately sent an aircraft to the scene. Once in the area, the aircraft was able to establish communication with the Katharina, noting the good health of the elderly sailor who, as you can see from the photo below, had already set up the inflatable raft to await rescue but was still on board.


An SOS message was sent to all the ships registered with AMVER, the voluntary rescue system promoted by the US Coast Guard: the first to respond was the Italian-flagged tanker Mare Picenum (274 x 48 m, built in 2011), 25 miles away, which agreed to change course to go to the site.

The Italian tanker Mare Picenum
The Italian tanker Mare Picenum

The crew of the Mare Picenum received the notification at about 9:30 and rescued the sailor at 12:54 after a perfect approach manoeuvre.


AMVER is a unique, computerised and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to organize assistance to people in distress at sea. Every day there are more than 7,000 ships available to carry out search and rescue services.

The roots of AMVER (which stands for Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System) go back to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.

Ships passing by the ill-fated liner were unaware that it had hit an iceberg and was sinking. Later, those who had seen the distress flares from the stricken ship admitted that they thought they were simply part of the celebrations for the maiden voyage. Even then, the need for a global rescue system was felt and discussed.

In the mid-twentieth century, the world’s commercial fleet and thriving air transport system still lacked a full-time, global emergency reporting system. On 15 April 1958, the US Coast Guard and commercial shipping representatives began discussions that led to the creation of AMVER, which became operational on 18 July 1958.

To the good fortune of many, most recently the 81-year-old German sailor.

(foto: Air Station Cape Cod)



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