Three mariners left stranded on an uninhabited Pacific island took inspiration from the movie “Cast Away” and were rescued by the US Navy and Coast Guard on Thursday.
The rescue came after the Navy plane noticed the mariners – stranded on Fanadik Island, which is located around 2600 miles southwest of Honolulu – had spelled out the word “HELP” on the sand with palm fronds. The Coast Guard said that the people had been on the island for three days. “They had the world ‘help’ spelled out and were waving their lifejackets,” US Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Michael McCandless said.
On their Facebook page, the US Coast Guard Hawaii Pacific wrote, “After a large wave reportedly swamped their skiff, these men swim nearly 2 miles at night. Upon arrival to the island they built the help sign and waited for rescue. The Coast Guard was notified Tuesday by the Chuuk search and rescue liaison that the mariners were overdue.”
The vessel the castaways were in had been struck by a large wave, as a result of which they had to swim to the shore for two miles, Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooer said. The Coast Guard learned the news of the missing three men on Tuesday.
As reported by NBC News, the three men were planning to make the flight from the island of Chuuk after they set out in the skiff on Monday. “When they did not arrive for the flight, Coast Guard was notified,” McCandless said. “We began coordination efforts, using a combination of assets. It was determined a Navy P-8 aircraft out of Japan would assist. We gave [the aircraft] a starting and ending point, given an intended track of the missing vessel,” he added.
The discovery of the men came Thursday. They were transferred to a neighboring island by a boat.
Since late March this year, there have been seven search and rescue missions in the area conducted by the US Coast Guard, Mooer said, as reported by KFOR. Fifteen people have been saved in these rescue missions. “There are not a lot of resources in that region. It’s very small and very remote,” Mooer said.