Monday, July 30, 2007

China Thanks Horizon for Ocean Rescue

By ESTES THOMPSON 07.23.07, 5:21 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. Crew members of a ship operated by a North Carolina company were hailed by Chinese maritime officials for their "courageous, selfless and humanitarian" acts for braving typhoon-whipped seas to rescue two Chinese seamen from a sunken ship

One adrift man was plucked from the Pacific Ocean by a sailor harnessed to a 40-foot ladder as it was lowered into huge swells during Typhoon Man-yi. Thesecond man was rescued by a lifeboat that was heavily damaged, according to a log entry by the Horizon Falcon's captain.

The rescued men were among 13 surviving crew members of the 420-foot log carrier Hai Tong No. 7, which sank about 375 miles northwest of Guam earlier this month. The Panamanian-registered ship had a 22-member crew, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

In a letter sent to Charlotte-based Horizon Lines (nyse: HRZ - news - people ) Inc., a Chinese government official thanked the Horizon Falcon crew and called the dramatic rescues "a demonstration of international humanitarian cooperation, mariner helps mariner."

The letter, dated July 17 and released by the company, was signed by Capt. Liu Gongchen, executive director general of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center. An Associated Press correspondent in Beijing confirmed the letter's authenticity.

Crew members weren't available Monday because the ship was at sea, a company spokesman said.

Company officials said Capt. Tom McDorr steered the Horizon Falcon through logs and other debris to bring the 722-foot ship close enough to lower a lifeboat. One man was rescued by the lifeboat, driven by Kevin McCarthy, before it was abandoned after being damaged by an 18 to 20-foot swell.

Crew members pulled another Chinese seaman to safety after John Dacaug, who was strapped to a ladder, grabbed the man with a hook, according to the captain's log, which was released by Horizon Lines.

The Horizon Falcon and other ships searched for additional survivors, operating after sundown from the light of flares dropped by a Navy plane.

Horizon Lines Chairman Charles G. Raymond said the rescue was an example of "the brotherhood at sea that crosses any boundary."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

And from Horizon Lines;

Vessel in Force 8 North Pacific Ocean storm answers distress call

Charlotte, NC (July 17, 2007) – With 30-foot swells in fierce seas and with 40 mile an hour winds buffeting their efforts, the M/V HORIZON FALCON crew performed a rescue of two Chinese seafarers 375 miles northwest of Guam, Horizon Lines Inc. (NYSE:HRZ) reported today following a review of the FALCON’s Master’s Log. The rescue effort took place over a 24 hour period on July 12 and 13.

The HORIZON FALCON, a newly-constructed 2,824 TEU containership in the Horizon Lines fleet, responded to a request by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam to divert for a distress call from a log carrier, HAI TONG No. 7. The 420-foot Panamanian-flagged ship had 22 Chinese crewmembers on board. It sank after encountering rough seas due to a typhoon in the area. Survivors were in the water for two days when the HORIZON FALCON arrived at the scene before noon on July 12.

Captain Tom McDorr of the HORIZON FALCON navigated rough seas strife with logs and other debris from the sunken ship to bring the 722-ft FALCON into safe recovery distance. The crew used a lifeboat and the ship’s portside pilots’ ladder to attempt a rescue of the distressed seafarers.

According to Captain McDorr’s log, a lifeboat with three seamen under the command of Chief Mate Kevin McCarthy, was dispatched with 18-20ft swells and waves impacting from every direction. One survivor was rescued, but as the lifeboat was being recovered, a large swell descended on the lifeboat, knocking the craft to a 45degree angle and damaging the motor. The crew was ordered to abandon the lifeboat and climbed to safety with the survivor up the containership’s 40 foot pilot’s ladder. A second survivor was rescued by ABS J. Dacaug, who while harnessed to the pilot’s ladder descended toward the water. While being submerged by swells, ABS Dacaug attached a grappling hook to the survivor before both were winched clear of the sea to safety.

With flares from an Okinawa-based Navy P3 Orion 225 airplane providing some light from above, the HORIZON FALCON continued searching for survivors and was eventually joined by the M/V CORAL EMERALD. The Horizon ship ran a search pattern in the area for four more hours until morning. A USCG Buoy Tender from Guam arrived at the scene to assist and relieve the HORIZON FALCON, which was running low on fuel.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended the search operation for survivors of the HAI TONG No.7 on July 15 after 13 survivors of the 22-man crew had been rescued.

Weather Story

We are still tracking Invest 98L and now tracking Typhoon 05W (Usagi), heading for China.