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Satphone assists in vessel rescue

Eighty-two people have been rescued from a stranded ship near Java after authorities were able to use positional information from the onboard satellite phone to pinpoint its location.

On 9 August, Australia Maritime Safety Authority's (AMSA's) Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) was contacted by Australian Federal Police after it received a distress call from a vessel requesting assistance, via an Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro on the ship.

“RCC Australia successfully contacted the satellite telephone number and a person on board reported the vessel's engine was not working and there were 82 people on board. At this stage, the vessel's unconfirmed location was south of Java,” explained AMSA's spokesperson, Jo Meehan.

RCC Australia sent out a distress broadcast to the area to call for assistance, but there was an initial discrepancy over the vessel's GPS position.

The situation was clarified when Inmarsat was able to confirm, using the satellite phone's positional information, that the vessel was approximately 31nm south of Java.

An AP3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft subsequently spotted the vessel and three merchant ships who had responded to the earlier broadcast were diverted to the scene, followed shortly after by Australian Navy vessels HMAS Glenelg and HMAS Childers.

The MV Clipper Mayflower assisted in the rescue of two injured people from the water, while the remaining 80 people were taken on board the Defence vessels.

The diverted merchant ships were released and the MV Clipper Mayflower took the injured people to Indonesia for medical treatment, with support from an Indonesian rescue boat.

Australian border protection command also made arrangements for the people on board HMAS Glenelg and HMAS Childers to be transferred to Christmas Island.

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