SUBIC BAY, Philippines - The replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) rescued five Filipino fishermen from the South China Sea 10 miles off the coast of Luzon Wednesday afternoon, nine hours after their boat capsized in rough seas as Typhoon Conson passed over the island of Luzon.
USNS John Ericsson had sortied from Subic Bay to sea on Tuesday to avoid the storm, and was returning to Subic Bay when Able Bodies Seaman Charles Wright spotted the fishermen at 1:10 p.m., clinging to their overturned banka boat and waving a yellow flag.
At 1:33 p.m., Ericsson lowered its rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) into the sea, and 10 minutes later all five fishermen were safely on Ericsson’s deck, where a physician examined them.
“They were a bit shaken up because the seas were rough, but otherwise were in good health and happy to be on our ship,” said Tiffany Brockman, Ericsson’s Chief Mate. “We gave them fresh clothing, new socks and boots, and a nice meal.”
A few hours after their rescue, the fishermen were ashore and handed over to the care of the Philippine Coast Guard.
“The crew was pretty excited to have played a role in helping these fishermen,” Brockman added, noting that the Ericsson had several Tagalog-speaking members on its crew, making communication easy. “At first, nobody was happy that we had to sortie due to the typhoon, but being able to help these mariners in need made it all worth it.”
Ericcson is a Military Sealift Command underway replenishment oiler, with a crew of 3 military members and 92 civil service mariners working for MSC. The ship provides underway replenishment of fuel to Navy combat ships and jet fuel for aircraft aboard aircraft carriers at sea.