A U.S. Navy aircraft saved three castaways stranded on a remote island after spotting a bunch of palm branches arranged to form the word “help.”
The P-8 surveillance aircraft took off from the Misawa Air Base in Japan following reports that three men were missing. These men had embarked on a routine trip from one Micronesian island to another when they disappeared. The trip was only supposed to take three hours, but they ended up gone for three days, stranded on a totally uninhabited island.
The small craft they used to travel to the airport on the island of Chuuk had shipwrecked. The Coast Guard was immediately notified the men were missing and coordinated the P-8 aircraft from Japan to get on the scene.
The area to search vast, at 12.2-million square miles. If the castaways hadn’t decided to spell “help” using palm branches, they might never have been found. In fact, while vessels in the area searched for a combined 17 hours, once the P-8 arrived, the search was concluded in just two hours.
“The Coast Guard 14th District covers an area of responsibility more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, an area almost twice the size of Russia,” Jennifer Conklin, search and rescue mission coordinator at the Coast Guard Command Center Honolulu, said in a statement. “Oftentimes, we are thousands of miles away from those who need help and because of that our partnerships with the Navy, other search and rescue organizations, partner Pacific nations and AMVER are essential.”
“Our combined efforts coupled with the willingness of many different resources to come together and help, led to the successful rescue of these three men in a very remote part of the Pacific,” Coast Guard Lt. William White, Sector Guam public affairs officer, said in a statement.
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