This Day in History (2001) Tunisian fishermen saved after weeks at sea
The "Dorado Star" crew spotted the disabled boat about two miles away, waving and raising and lowering flags.
From the March 21, 2001, edition of The Arabian Sun
The crew of the "Dorado Star," a Vela International Marine Limited supertanker, last month rescued three weak Tunisian fishermen who had been adrift in the Mediterranean Sea for many days without food, and weathered two storms while their boat had a disabled engine.
Vela cadets Amro S. Al-Thubait and Abdullah Al-Yami translated for the weary sailors. “Arriyadia” newspaper highlighted the rescue in a story headlined "Two Saudi Cadets Save Tunisian Crew."
The rescue took place after the bridge officer on the 304,000 deadweight-ton tanker spotted a small boat about two miles away waving, raising and lowering flags to attract attention.
At that time, the "Dorado Star" was sailing through the Mediterranean on a ballast voyage from St. Eustatius in the Caribbean to her loading port of Sidi Kerir in Egypt.
The officer called the ship's master and maneuvered the tanker toward the fishing vessel. Communication with the vessel quickly made it clear that the crew was physically and mentally distressed and needed assistance.
Maneuvering a 328-meter tanker alongside a 12-meter fishing boat took a remarkable degree of seamanship and ship-handling skill by the captain and crew. They safely secured the boat alongside below the "Dorado Star's" crane, from which a personnel basket was lowered to bring the men on board.
The crew first thought only two men were on the fishing boat, but as the personnel basket landed a third was helped from the deck cabin into the basket. All were very weak and needed assistance to walk once on board the "Dorado Star."
Al-Thubait, a Jiddah native, and Al-Yami, from Najran, translated for the storm-tossed fishermen, reporting they had left Malta on Dec. 13 bound for Tunisia. Their engine broke down soon afterward, however, leaving them at the mercy of the sea. They could not remember when they last had food.
As the "Dorado Star" continued her voyage to Sidi Kerir, the captain contacted shore authorities to determine what to do next. It was decided that Malta was the port through which they could easily be repatriated with minimum delay to the ship.
After loading in Egypt and setting a course for Rotterdam, the "Dorado Star" rendezvoused with a launch as she passed Malta.
The three grateful fishermen were then taken to the same port they had left three months earlier, to be returned to Tunisia.
Caption for top photo: A Vela crew saved three fishermen lost in the ocean for weeks.
Also on this date
2006 — The social media site Twitter is founded
1999 — Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones become the first to circumnavigate the globe
1994 — The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change enters into force
1986 — Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win the World Figure Skating Championships
1980 — U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet-Afghan War
1970 — San Diego Comic-Con, the largest pop and culture festival in the world, hosts its inaugural event
1970 — The first Earth Day proclamation is issued by Joseph Alioto, mayor of San Francisco
1963 — Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closes
1952 — Alan Freed presents the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first rock and roll concert in Cleveland, Ohio
1946 — The Los Angeles Rams sign Kenny Washington, making him the first African American player in professional (U.S.) football since 1933
1928 — Charles Lindbergh is presented with the Medal of Honor for the first solo trans-Atlantic flight
1871 — Journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone