CASTINE, Maine — Cadets and other crew members on board the State of Maine, the 500-foot training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy, rescued a stranded sailor on Wednesday morning in the Atlantic Ocean.
The training vessel picked up a man sailing solo after his boat began taking on water, according to a prepared statement released Thursday by the college.
The State of Maine, which is returning to Maine from Spain for the midpoint of its 90-day annual training cruise, was about 600 miles south-southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wednesday when it was contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard.
“The Prodigal, a sailing vessel registered in Norfolk, Virginia, was battered by recent storms and its captain, Michael Hurley, had radioed for help,” Maine Maritime Academy officials indicated in the statement. “About [90 minutes] after the initial call, [the Maine Maritime Academy ship was] able to establish communication with the vessel, and learned that the sailboat had structural damage, but was still afloat.”
The training ship, about 29 nautical miles away from the Prodigal, turned and prepared to take Hurley on board.
“Students aboard the State of Maine prepared to render assistance by checking the fast rescue boats, fastening a cargo net to the main deck which would hang to the waterline to act as a target as they brought the two vessels together, and rigging a jacob’s ladder for the sailboat captain to climb away from his sailboat,” according to the Maine Maritime Academy statement.
Upon reaching the disabled boat, the ship’s crew helped transfer some of Hurley’s personal belongings to the State of Maine and then assisted Hurley on board. He contacted his wife from the training ship and was given a hot meal. The ship will bring Hurley to Portland, where it is still on schedule to arrive on Saturday, June 13.
Jennifer DeJoy, spokeswoman for Maine Maritime Academy, said Thursday that she did not have details about Hurley’s physical condition but that, aside from being generally “exhausted and bruised,” he is expected to be fine. She said he was sailing en route from Charleston, South Carolina, to Ireland when his boat ran into trouble.
DeJoy said the training ship has responded to distress calls before, most recently two years ago, but she is not sure if students and crew on board have ever rescued someone from the ocean before Wednesday.
The rescue mission provided valuable real-life training for the students on board the State of Maine, according to Maine Maritime Academy officials.
“Students got a firsthand look at near disaster,” Nate Gandy, the commandant of midshipmen and a Maine Maritime Academy alumnus, said in the prepared statement. “Collaboration, problem-solving, skill, and luck all conspired to bring about a positive outcome, and we are thankful for a safe rescue for Captain Hurley.”
Maine Maritime Academy President William J. Brennan said he has congratulated Captain Leslie Eadie and everyone on board the training ship for a job well done.
“I’m so proud of our fine students, officers, crew and staff, who were put to the test,” Brennan said.
The State of Maine is on its annual summer training cruise for Maine Maritime Academy freshman and juniors. The vessel is scheduled to leave Portland on June 18 to head back east across the Atlantic to Cobh, Ireland, and then will steam back west, stopping in Norfolk, Virginia, and Searsport before returning to Castine at the end of its 90-day voyage on July 27.
According to Maine Maritime Academy officials, the school’s training vessel is a participant in a voluntary global search and rescue network called the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, which is run by the Coast Guard. The network, also known as AMVER, uses commercial ships to save people at sea when traditional resources such as helicopters and cutters are not available, the Maine Maritime Academy statement indicated. More than 21,000 ships representing more than 100 nations participate in the program and have saved more than 300 lives so far in 2015, they said.
For information about the rescue network, visit www.amver.com.