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ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX006 (2001)

ARLX006 Ham radio aids high seas rescue

QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 6  ARLX006
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  March 23, 2001
To all radio amateurs 

ARLX006 Ham radio aids high seas rescue

Amateur Radio operators assisted in a high seas rescue operation
after pirates attacked a private sailing vessel March 20 off
Venezuela. The as-yet-unidentified skipper reportedly was shot, and
his wife summoned help via the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 20
meters. The victim was reported to be recovering in a Trinidad

The incident in the Caribbean occurred some 3200 km east-southeast
of a similar pirate attack nearly a year ago. In that incident armed
marauders shot young Willem van Tuijl from the Netherlands, who was
sailing with his parents.

According to Coast Guard Lt. Jose Diaz, KP3J, of the Rescue
Coordination Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the 44-foot ketch
Lorna, of Swedish registry, was enroute to Trinidad and Tobago when
pirates attacked some three nautical miles offshore. The husband was
shot once in the abdomen.

The pirates destroyed the VHF radio, so the woman activated an
emergency locator transmitter (ELT). The San Juan Rescue
Coordination Center received ELT ''hits'' from the Lorna and notified
Venezuelan authorities.

Word arrived at Miami Coast Guard some 90 minutes later from the
Maritime Mobile Service Net's Mike Pilgrim, K5MP, of a distress call
from the Lorna on 14.300 MHz. Miami Coast Guard forwarded the
information to the San Juan rescue center. Diaz tuned to 14.300,
where Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, Dave Dalziel, N4ICE, and Jim Hirschman,
K4TCV--a physician who had assisted in the van Tuijl pirate attack
last year--already had activated an emergency net. An amateur in
Trinidad, Eric Mackie, 9Z4CP, also assisted in communications.

Among those standing by on frequency were Ed Petzolt, K1LNC, in
Florida, and Hector Godoy, HR3HGB, in Honduras, both of whom were
instrumental in the van Tuijl rescue operation a year ago. The
amateurs on 20 meters were able to calm the woman aboard the
sailboat and provide medical counseling.

Diaz got permission from Venezuela to allow a vessel from Trinidad
to assist, and a Venezuelan Navy vessel arrived on scene
simultaneously with a Trinidad Coast Guard fast boat, with medical
personnel. Trinidad medical personnel and crew took control of the
sailboat from the shaken and exhausted victim's wife.

High seas made it too risky to move the victim. Instead, the Swedish
sailboat continued on to Trinidad escorted by the Venezuelan Navy
vessel and the Trinidad CG cutter.

Diaz credited amateurs with doing ''a tremendous job'' in helping to
keep the injured man's wife calm and to relay information for the US
Coast Guard to her and for maintaining order on frequency.


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