Golden State rescues two from boat adrift in path of tropical storm

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At approximately 0652 on 14 August, 2021, the Golden State was transiting the Gulf of Mexico bound for Cape Henlopen, DE with a full load of crude oil. The Mate on watch, Jessica Faltings, received a MAYDAY call in Spanish on CH 16 from a small craft called the Three Musketeers. The Mate on watch responded to the call on CH 16 and two Spanish speaking ABs, Javier Valencia and Kervin Guevara, were able to gather information on the small craft. It was determined that the small craft was adrift, though the position could not be determined as all navigational equipment aboard the small craft had failed.

The Mate on watch called the Captain, who immediately came to the bridge. The Captain instructed the Second Mate to hail USCG Key West via satellite phone. The vessel was placed into hand steering and slowed to maneuvering speed. The Second Mate Kenneth Estes attempted to contact the Coast Guard via Satellite phone on the emergency line for Sector Key West. All Hands were called to look for the stricken vessel, and at 0716, the small craft was sighted in position Latitude 24-33.177N, Longitude 084-20.808W.

At 0740, USCG Sector Key West was reached via satellite phone and the information gathered by the crew was relayed. The Captain maneuvered the Golden State alongside the 26-foot Three Musketeers - the sport fisherman did have slight reversing propulsion, which aided in getting it near enough for the Chief Mate, deck and engine crews to get heaving lines to the stricken vessel. A port lee was made by the Golden State to calm the seas, estimated at about 12 to 14 feet.

At 0818, the ship's engine was stopped, and the small craft was secured alongside to the Golden State at 0831. The small craft was in position Lat: 24-38.107N, Long: 084-24.078W - approximately 85 miles west of Dry Tortugas and 145 nautical miles west of Key West, FL. A line was then lowered to the small craft with life jackets attached. The CM Scott Anderson verbally confirmed the two people aboard were well enough to climb the pilot ladder. At 0832, both people boarded the Golden State. At 0832, the small craft Three Musketeers was released (cut loose) in position Lat: 24-38.169N, Long: 084-24.082W.

At 0835, the Golden State resumed her voyage for Cape Henlopen, DE, with final destination of Marcus Hook, PA. At 0900, the engine load program was set to NAV Full Ahead. At 0912, Crowley Operations Port Captain Callahan in Jacksonville, FL was notified of the situation.

Weather conditions were rough, and the sport fisherman was difficult to locate. With the approaching Tropical Storm, the survivors were very lucky to have been spotted and picked up by the Golden State's crew. The two male survivors were extremely thankful to the Golden State's crew for rescuing them in rough seas.

The Survivors reported that they had been adrift four days with food and water running very low. They reported some ships had passed them by without stopping - understandable as the Golden State's crew didn't see them until they were about a mile away in the rough seas. Another ship had made contact with the small craft but told them it was too rough to pick them up. That ship proceeded on her voyage, and there is no confirmation that the small craft's position was reported to authorities. With Tropical Storm Fred expected to pass by the small craft's position in less than 24 hours, it is likely the situation could have resulted in a much worse outcome for these Mariners. They were offered medical attention, hot food, and spare crew cabins to rest and clean up after their four days adrift.

After discussions with USCG Sector Key West, a plan was developed to make a rendezvouses with a USCG Key West small boat at the Key West sea buoy to transfer these Mariners safely ashore. At 2042 in darkness, the Mariners were transferred to the USCG. Weather conditions included strong winds and rain, with seas 8 to 9 feet at Key West. The USCG Sector Key West boat crew's performance was excellent under less than favorable sea conditions. Very good planning and team work between the Golden State and USCG Key West - very professional and a super job by the USCG.

The AMO and SIU men and women crewmembers aboard the Golden State did a remarkable job in finding and rescuing these two Mariners. As Captain, it was my call to start the search and rescue, but there is no doubt I could not have done it without help from these professional Mariners.

Captain Ervin L. Curtis
Master, M/T Golden State


Golden State,

Thank you for answering the call for these distressed mariners. The sea state and impeding storm made for a difficult operation, but you're crew's exceptional abilities provided for a successful rescue. Without your assistance, this very well could have been a grave situation. We are happy to see everyone in good spirits and safely aboard your vessel.

Very Respectfully,
USCG Sector Key West
Command Center

Good morning Captain Curtis,

Greetings from the Coast Guard in Key West, Florida. Thank you for your selfless actions on Saturday when you and your crew rescued the two mariners lost at sea 80 miles west of the Dry Tortugas. I realize that this likely delayed your transit and was not without cost, making your efforts all the more noteworthy for taking the time to assist the two individuals in distress. I'd appreciate it if you would extend our most sincere appreciation to your entire crew for their noteworthy actions that day.

In gratitude and with my best regards,

CAPT Adam Chamie
Commander, USCG Sector Key West

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