A rigid-hulled, inflatable boat deployed off the USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) circles a distressed and adrift boat in the South China Sea, October 8. Five Filipino fishermen survived for five days aboard a makeshift boat after their fishing boat sank at sea and they were rescued by the crew of USNS Wally Schirra.
US 7th Fleet/Released
US Navy ship rescues stranded Filipino fishermen in West Philippine Sea
(Philstar.com) - October 10, 2018 - 11:02am

MANILA, Philippines — A United States Navy vessel came to the rescue of five Filipino fishermen who have been adrift in the West Philippine Sea for five days.

Cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra was conducting a routine mission when the distressed Filipinos were spotted adrift in the sea, according to a report from the US 7th Fleet.

Wally Schirra's master Capt. Keith Sauls said the Filipino fishermen were waving their arms and a flag in the air when the watch officer and a lookout saw them.

"Luckily, we were going at a slow enough speed to have spotted the fishermen," Sauls said. "They were also flashing a white light that was previously thought to be a fishing buoy. The watch officer notified me, then the chief mate of a possible rescue situation."

The fishermen's boat sank on October 3 after the bill of a six-feet long blue marlin punctured the hull of their boat.

"The fishermen salvaged what they could from the rapidly sinking boat, removing the outriggers and planks to turn it into a raft with floats and barrels underneath for floatation," USNS Wally Schirra chief mate Leon Hadley said.

The Filipinos were able to take with them some rice, clothes, batteries, a light bulb, an AM-receive only radio and a handheld GPS but they did not have water.

Hadley noted that they were lucky to have found the fishermen when they did as they may have died after two to three days without water.

"On average, death results two to three days after a diet of drinking undiluted salt water or urine in survival-at-sea events as it takes more water than is consumed for the body to process the waste and salt out of the kidneys, leading to a build-up of salt and toxic ammonia in the body which only deepens the cycle and quickly leads to death if not stopped," Hadley said.

The Filipinos swam toward the US ship when it came close to the boat. The Wally Schirra crew then deployed an inflatable boat along with search and rescue swimmers to pull the fishermen to safety.

An initial assessment and security search was conducted among the rescued fishermen when they came aboard the US ship.

They were transferred to the Philippine Coast Guard after the US Navy vessel received clearance to go into Subic Bay.

The Filipino fishermen expressed their gratitude to their rescuers for housing them and providing them with spare clothes and cash donations.

The Wally Schirra is operating under the area of responsibility of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, which is part of the Pacific Fleet. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

SOUTH CHINA SEA US NAVY WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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