Men rescued from uninhabited Pacific island after writing SOS in sand

Clay Curtis
August 4, 2020

The men were found on Pikelot Island in Micronesia by Australian and USA military aircraft on Sunday, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) said.

An "SOS" message scraped onto the beachfront of a tiny Pacific island directed the aircrew from an Australian navy assault ship to three missing sailors, military authorities said Tuesday.

They meant to travel about 27 miles to Pulap atoll when their sailed off course and ran out of fuel.

According to reports, the HMAS Canberra headed towards the island, with a helicopter landing on the beach and bringing the men some food and water.

In this photo provided by the Australian Defence Force, an Australian Army helicopter lands on Pikelot Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, where three men were found, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, safe and healthy after missing for three days.

They also carried out identity and health checks, and the group are said to be well. An Australian man was rescued last week after drifting at sea for three days off the Solomon Islands.

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Their SOS message was spotted after the men were reported missing by Guam authorities on August 1.

"The ship's company responded to the call and had the ship quickly prepared to support the search and rescue", according to the Canberra's commanding officer, Capt. Terry Morrison, in a statement Monday.

"This isn't the set of Castaway..." the U.S. Coast Guard Hawaii Pacific wrote at the time, a reference to the movie in which Tom Hanks plays a man stranded on an uninhabited island after a plane crash.

'In particular, our embarked MRH90 helicopter from No. 808 Squadron and the four armed reconnaissance helicopters from 1st Aviation Regiment were instrumental in the morning search that helped locate the men and deliver supplies and confirm their welfare.

At least, it did this past weekend for three men whose small boat had run out of fuel and drifted off course among the hundreds of islands and atolls of Micronesia.

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