MAYDAY - Apr 15, 2015
Maritime Mobile Service Network
For Immediate Release, 5/6/15
Prepared by Jeff Savasta, KB4JKL, Assistant Net Manager
On 4/16/15 at approximately 0700 hours UTC, Members of the Maritime Mobile Service Network assisted with a Mayday call heard on 14.300 MHz. Net Control Station William Sturridge, KI4MMZ received the Mayday call from Andrew P. Fleming, KC4VOA aboard the sailing yacht “Seaquel”. KC4VOA reported that they were approximately 95 miles North West of Puerto Rico heading toward Florida when the vessel started to take on water due to a mechanical failure. KC4VOA had also reported that he attempted to raise the United States Coast Guard as well as other agencies on frequencies assigned to those agencies with no success but was relieved to find KI4MMZ on the amateur band on 14.300 Mhz.
KI4MMZ notified the United States Coast Guard of the information and then immediately phoned Amateur Radio Operator Fred Moore, W3ZU to act as his back-up and assist him with the crisis. Propagation on 20 meters at that time of the morning was nominal and KI4MMZ knew that it was just a matter of time before communications might be lost. They had a short window of opportunity in which to communicate. It was only approximately 5 minutes before contact was lost with the vessel and any other information that they obtained was via an in-house database program which the MMSN utilizes for it’s contacts. KC4VOA has checked in to the MMSN many times prior so there was a vast amount of information on the vessel.
The Coast Guard was dispatched for the rescue and unknown to KI4MMZ and W3ZU, KC4VOA sustained a head injury and had an open wound. The Coast Guard located the vessel and a Coast Guard Paramedic was lowered via helicopter to treat the injury.
Dealing with maritime emergencies is not unusual for the Maritime Mobile Service Network. The Net’s regular operational hours are 1600 to 0200 UTC but it’s not unusual for KI4MMZ to listen at all other hours. He was recently recognized by the United States Coast Guard with a Public Service Commendation Award on July 15, 2014 for his many years of service.
Andrew Flemming, KC4VOA and his wife Sally, KA3RUJ were both relieved to find a diligent Net Control Operator on 14.300 MHz still listening to the frequency. In the message they wrote to KI4MMZ they stated “We are so grateful that you heard us on Thursday morning and were so persistent to make sure you got everything correct. I had worried lately that ham radio might be overtaken by technology, but you proved that it still has a significant place. The ham community is a remarkable community and we are so grateful to be a part of it. While cruising ham nets are our principal source of weather and it is also how we stay in touch with our cruising friends all over the world! It is sightless and thus not judgmental. The rest of the world should take notice!
Authority: Rene Stiegler, K4EDX