Three missing men found stranded on the tiny island of Pikelot after their boat ran out of fuel during a 42km journey.
After attempting to sail between atolls Poluwat and Pulap, the sailors lost their way and ended up almost 200km west of their intended location. Out of fuel, the men became stranded on the uninhabited Pikelot, where they constructed an SOS sign in the sand.
They had been missing for three days when authorities in the US territory of Guam initiated the search.
The men were first spotted (2 August) by a US Air Force KC-135 tanker operating out of the Air Force Base in Guam. After three hours of searching pilot Lt. Col. Jason Palmeira-Yen said they spotted the SOS sign.
“We looked down and saw an island, so we decided to check it out and that’s when we saw SOS and a boat right next to it on the beach. From there we called in the Australian Navy because they had two helicopters nearby that could assist and land on the island.”
The HMAS Canberra sent a helicopter to provide the trio with food and water. They were found in “good condition” and had no significant injuries.
A US Coast Guard stated that the stranded sailors and rescuers kept their distance due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Commander of the Canberra, Capt. Terry Morrison, expressed his pride in his crew following the rescue.
“I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfill our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world.”
According to Australian Officials, the men were taken home by Micronesian patrol Vessel the FSS Independence on Tuesday (4 August).
The Federated States of Micronesia located in the Western Pacific, consists of more than 600 small islands. Pikelot Island is less than half a kilometre long, heavily forested, and uninhabited.
Similarly, in 2016 a couple became stranded on the Micronesian Island of East Fayu. The US Navy located the lost pair through an SOS signal drawn in the sand.