Fisherman Found Clinging to a Cooler: In a remarkable turn of events, a fisherman’s life was saved when he was discovered adrift in the vast expanse of the sea off the coast of Indonesia. Thanks to the swift action of the U.S. Army, the man’s harrowing ordeal came to an end.
On September 1, personnel aboard the USAV Palo Alto spotted a figure in the distance, desperately waving their arms for help. Sergeant Seth Leonard, a skilled watercraft engineer, recounted the moment, stating, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw someone about 1.5 miles directly ahead, signaling distress in the water.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Richard Cordero verified the sighting through binoculars and promptly alerted the ship’s crew to the urgent need for a rescue mission. “We train for these scenarios extensively, and in that critical moment, our top priority shifted to saving the man overboard,” emphasized Cordero.
Nearing the distressed fisherman, the mariners observed that he clung to a makeshift flotation device—a modest plastic cooler lid. “As we approached the victim, we noticed his survival depended on that small plastic lid,” noted Sergeant 1st Class Stefen Valencia, the assistant chief engineer. “It was no bigger than a boogie board, but it undeniably kept him alive.”
Efficiently hoisting the survivor on board, the crew provided him with dry clothes and nourishment in the ship’s sick bay. It was revealed that he was an Indonesian fisherman who had spent several perilous hours clinging to the meager cooler lid after his boat capsized during the night.
“Despite the language barrier, we managed to gather enough information to relay a comprehensive report to our superiors,” Cordero explained. “We ascertained his name, confirmed his Indonesian nationality, learned of the capsized boat, and determined he had been adrift for at least one night.”
Surviving in the vast ocean is an unfathomable challenge, as the water rapidly saps body heat, even in tropical climates like that off the Indonesian coast. With water temperatures hovering around the high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit, a person can typically endure for approximately 25 hours.
“He was understandably thirsty, famished, and weary,” shared Specialist Kristy Moore, the ship’s medic. “But above all, he exuded an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude for our timely discovery. This is a tale of survival that will resonate for years to come.”
Utilizing Google Translate, the mariners bridged the communication gap with the survivor. After coordinating with the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the Indonesian navy swiftly arrived to collect him.
“As mariners, it is our solemn duty to save lives in distress,” declared Cordero with pride. “I commend the entire crew for their professionalism and swift response to this extraordinary situation.”