Rescue at Sea

Sometimes, a job demands more of us than we have been prepared for through training and prior experience. Even more rarely, the demand is made under circumstances that are truly extraordinary.

Recently, while on its way to Australia, the Hudson vessel MV Baltic K encountered the Seven Star, a small Sri Lankan fishing boat, at open sea. The Seven Star was signaling to the much larger bulk freighter and the MV Baltic K approached to investigate. As the crew neared the drifting fishing vessel, they soon realized this was no ordinary oceanic emergency. A sign which read “HELP ME PLEASE HELP ME SRI LANKAN REFUGEES” had been attached to the roof of the tattered vessel and a substantial number of distressed people were seen on deck. The captain of the vessel immediately informed RCC Australia and Hudson in order to decide a course of action. Without hesitation, Hudson, with RCC Australia’s blessing, ordered the Baltic K to evacuate the Seven Star.

Only as the rescue operation got under way did the true gravity of the situation become apparent. Many on the Seven Star were too weak to leave under their own power and had to be carried aboard by the crew of the Baltic K. The Baltic K recovered all 29 passengers and crew from the Seven Star, including women and children. It was learned from the refugees that the Seven Star had been without power for 67 days, and had been at sea for a total of 80. Adrift at sea with supplies running low, the refugees began suffering from severe malnutrition, with the hunger reducing some individuals to a truly heartbreaking physical condition. They had left Kerala, Kochin, India, heading toward Australia in the hope of a better life. Instead, they endured months adrift at sea, faced with a grim and uncertain future.

Thanks to the timely intervention of Hudson and the crew of the Baltic K, the refugees were finally on the way to that future. The crew of the Baltic K provided them with food, water, and accommodation while Hudson redirected the vessel to Christmas Island where RCC Australia would assume responsibility for the refugees, tending to their medical needs and providing assistance with immigration. Her role complete, the MV Baltic K resumed her previous course and continued on toward mainland Australia.

Although Hudson and its crews always try to look out for those in need at sea, such an encounter is truly uncommon, and Hudson is proud to have been part of this rescue. The success of this operation was due to the quick thinking of the crew of the Baltic K and strong coordination between Hudson, its captains, and governmental authorities. Looking back on the dramatic operation and the hardships endured by those on the Seven Star, Hudson sincerely hopes that the refugees will find a home where they can prosper.