THE CHAIN LOCKER

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HORIZON RELIANCE - click photo for gCaptain story about latest rescue
In February of this year the Horizon Lines ship HORIZON RELIANCE  made news when her crew rescued three Canadian yachtsmen - one of them a 9-year-old boy - from their sinking boat about 280 miles NE of Hilo, Hawaii. (Click "Horizon Reliance 1", "Horizon Reliance 2" & "Horizon Reliance 3" in the Categories menu to the right of the page for those stories and links, including a TV interview with the Chief Mate and two interviews with Capt. Kelleher.)  

It was a stirring rescue - the yacht sank as they arrived, scattering the three victims over the sea on both sides of the container ship, which nevertheless maneuvered successfully in extreme weather conditions to retrieve them all safely. Coolness and seamanship in spades!

Coming as it did not long after the COSTA CONCORDIA tragedy, I greeted the news of this successful rescue with satisfaction, noting that this was how seamen should be seen - Capt. Kelleher and his crew typified, for me, the best qualities seamen strive for. I took my hat off to HORIZON RELIANCE.

That hat's in the air once again. HORIZON RELIANCE, an AMVER participating vessel, was directed by USCG Fourteenth District to assist an as-yet unnamed 81-year-old sailor who needed medical evacuation from his sailboat 1,100 miles ENE of Oahu, Hawaii. Under command of Capt. Costanzi on this occasion, HORIZON RELIANCE's crew found the yacht, evacuated the elderly sailor and treated him in the ship's hospital, stabilizing him until he could recieve medical treatment in Honolulu, where the ship was to dock today. 


Click the photo above for the story on gCaptain, and also here for the AMVER bulletin. And here's a link to the story on Maritime Executive, which also has links to their two interviews with Capt. Kelleher about the previous rescue.

I've seen no other details, including the medical issue, the name of the yacht, where she was bound, or who else was on board. But they'll emerge. For now, I'm just very happy HORIZON RELIANCE has done it again - happy for the 81-year-old who was brought to safety, and happy for the example once again being set by this fine group of seamen!


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Post edit: See these links to Hawaii News Now (Story 1) & (Story 2 w/Video) for an update on details missing in the initial reporting, and a thrilling account of 81-year-old stroke victim Robert Bourdon's transfer from his small yacht to the 892-foot container ship in rising wind and sea. 

The elderly sailor, Robert Bourdon, had suffered a stroke and was unable to speak. Two unsuccessful attempts to transfer him to the RELIANCE resulted in slight damage to the careening 33' sailboat GALLIVANT; but finally the crew of RELIANCE lowered the gangway, and Mr. Bourdon was handed over from his grandson to the RELIANCE's Bos'n, Shawn, who then horsed Mr. Bourdon up the gangway "like a Brahma bull," according to Capt. Barry Constanzi. 

Here is part of a message Capt. Costanzi sent to John & Jenni Bourdon, as published on their blog BOURDONS GALLIVANT: "This big old ship (892 feet) was just never intended to be a rescue vessel. We are set up for abandon ship is all. No towing for us either. We were originally what is called a LASH ship. In the old days this vessel carried barges and had a huge crane on deck. Since then we have been changed into a containership. 
     Our next attempt at getting your dad was with our crane using a stokes litter (basket) but that was quickly ruled our because you had too much rigging and no place to land the stokes litter. We were running out of options. 
     The last attempt was with our accommodation ladder (gangway) where you saw our Chief Engineer and Boatswain make it happen. Once we had your dad on deck, we put him in the stokes litter (stretcher) and hauled him up to our hospital."


Mr. Bourdon continued to improve with the care he received aboard HORIZON RELIANCE, and Capt. Constanzi's message quoted above closed by noting that Mr. Bourdon had begun to speak. He is receiving care in a Honolulu hospital.

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I've had one personal experience similar to this, in the sense that we had to bring a drifting yacht close alongside. In our case, it turned out that no one was on board, so we reported the yacht and continued our voyage. I was on a jumboized T-2 tanker at the time, and maneuvering alongside that yacht without doing damage wasn't easy, although we had good weather. So I very much respect what Captains Kelleher and Constanzi have been able to do with their ship.

Have you been part of an operation like this?  How did you get your seagoing ship into close quarters with a small boat or people adrift, perhaps in challenging weather? Please comment and tell us about your experience!