Distressed boat rescued after 4-day ordeal at sea PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 17:24

The Naval Forces Western Mindanao was informed on the morning of December 29, 2011 on the fate of F/B Kent-Ford 2, a fishing vessel that departed Mapun Pier on December 28, 2011 enroute to Zamboanga City.

F/B Kent-Ford 2 has encountered major derangement on its transmission system causing the whole propulsion to stop.  The said fishing boat was carrying onboard seven crew and 17 civilian passengers to include eight Marines who will be going on New Year’s break this holiday season. 
What was supposedly a joyous celebration with their families turned out to be battling with strong waves and loss at sea for days with depleting supply of water and food stuff.

Two Navy vessels and one aircraft (PN Islander) and BFAR vessel (MCS 3005) manned by PCG personnel were employed upon receipt of the distress signal.  They have a hard time locating the fishing boat since its Global Positioning System (GPS) has also malfunctioned and the only communication being established is thru HF (High Frequency) radio. The vessels and aircraft have searched the area immediately after it was reported distressed since December 29, 2011.

The navy deployed all their available vessels in Zamboanga, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and Navy Chief, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama directed one navy vessel (PS 36) stationed in Palawan to join the conduct of search and rescue operation on the distressed boat. 

Although the PNI 312 navy aircraft was able to establish radio and visual contacts on F/B Kent-Ford 2 on the third day (December 31), the navy vessels found it hard to locate it as winds started to blow stronger and sea condition continued to worsen.  But said the distressed fishing boat was finally located by BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS36) and BRP Leovigildo Gantioqui (PG384) around 8 pm on New Year’s Day after four days of search. A passing vessel named M/V Angel Explorer paved the way for this final stage of search when she was noticed by personnel aboard the fishing boat as it passed very close to their position and was able to identify the vessel’s name. Although the fishing boat was not noticed by the passing vessel for lack of visual communications and due to rough seas, they immediately informed PS36 of the vessel’s name and PS36 immediately contacted M/V Angel Explorer thru the marine band radio to get their position. This position was then used to determine the approximate location of Kent-Ford 2 and thus, the successful search and rescue that followed.

According to Rear Admiral Armando Guzman, who personally supervised the whole search and rescue operation aboard the NFWM Operations Center, the passengers were all exhausted but in high spirits when they were rescued.  The personnel aboard the rescuing vessels gave them basic provisions such as food and water.  They also rendered medical attention to some passengers who have been ailing.

The navy vessel arrived at Naval Forces Western Mindanao with 20 rescued passengers safe and in good condition while the F/B Kentford including its 7 crew and 5 passengers who opted to stay onboard is still being towed by MCS 3005 to Jolo pier which has the nearest PCG station.  PG 384 is escorting them to Jolo, closely monitoring and ready to give assistance if need arises.  They expected to arrive in Jolo around 9 pm tonight.