FIVE Filpino fishermen who have been stranded in the West Philippine sea for five days were rescued by a United States Navy vessel on Monday, October 8.
According to a report from the U.S. 7th Fleet, cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra was conducting a routine mission when the distressed Filipinos were spotted adrift in the sea.
The Filipino fishermen were waving their arms and a flag in the air when the watch officer and a lookout saw them, as stated by Wally Schirra’s master Capt. Keith Sauls.
“Luckily, we were going at a slow enough speed to have spotted the fishermen,” Sauls said. “They were also flashing a white light that was previously thought to be a fishing buoy. The watch officer notified me, then the chief mate of a possible rescue situation.”
The fishermen’s boat sank on October 3 after its hull was punctured by the bill of a six-feet long blue marlin.
USNS Wally Schirra chief mate Leon Hadley said, “The fishermen salvaged what they could from the rapidly sinking boat, removing the outriggers and planks to turn it into a raft with floats and barrels underneath for floatation.”
The Filipinos were able to take with them some rice, clothes, batteries, a light bulb, an AM-receive only radio and a handheld GPS but they did not have water, as reported by The Star.
Hadley said the fishermen could have died after two to three days without water so they were lucky they found them.
“On average, death results two to three days after a diet of drinking undiluted salt water or urine in survival-at-sea events as it takes more water than is consumed for the body to process the waste and salt out of the kidneys, leading to a build-up of salt and toxic ammonia in the body which only deepens the cycle and quickly leads to death if not stopped,” he said.
The Wally Schirra crew deployed an inflatable boat along with search and rescue swimmers to pull the fishermen to safety after the fishermen swam toward the U.S. ship when it came close to their boat.
An initial assessment and security search was conducted among the rescued fishermen when they came aboard the U.S. ship, and then they were transferred to the Philippine Coast Guard after the U.S. Navy vessel received clearance to go into Subic Bay.
The Wally Schirra is operating under the area of responsibility of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, which is part of the Pacific Fleet.