Rescued Indonesian fishermen happy to be home

HMAS Anzac safely returned a group of Indonesian fishermen rescued in the Indian Ocean on 15 May to their home port in Bali in cooperation with the Indonesian Navy.

CAPTION: Rescued Indonesian fishermen wave goodbye to the crew of HMAS Anzac from the Indonesian Navy patrol vessel KRI Escolar following their return to Bali. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photo by Leading Seaman Thomas Sawtell.

Anzac arrived in Indonesia early in the morning of 21 May and sailed in company with the KRI Yos Sudarso into the harbour area of Benoa outside Denpasar.

A contactless transfer of the 19 fishermen was then done in conjunction with the Indonesian patrol vessel KRI Escolar.

Originally expected to return to her home port of Fleet Base West in Western Australia on 14 May, Anzac was called on to conduct a search-and-rescue off the coast of Western Australia after a mayday call had been received.

The Anzac-class frigate sailed about 670 nautical miles west of Perth to help the 20 Indonesian fisherman.

The ADF deployed an Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft to deliver life rafts to the fishermen who had been clinging to their half-sunk vessel for a day.

They were rescued by the Japanese fishing vessel Fukuseki Maru 15 in the morning of 15 May and taken aboard Anzac that afternoon and given medical assistance and accommodation.

One fisherman was transported to a Perth hospital for urgent care by Anzac’s embarked MH-60R helicopter when the ship got within helicopter range.

Commanding Officer HMAS Anzac Commander Brendan Horn praised the response of his crew – who were just hours away from greeting their families and friends when they answered the call for help – as well as the Indonesian fishermen, the crew of the Fukuseki Maru 15 and the civilian authorities involved in coordinating the rescue.

“This story belongs to the Indonesian fishermen – Anzac and our MH-60R Seahawk were just a small part of the response,” Commander Horn said.

“As a mariner, you have respect for other mariners.

“The Indonesian fishermen were able to get to the life rafts and then the Japanese fishing vessel the Fukuseki Maru 15 did an amazing job to rescue them.”

During the Indonesian fishermen’s transit back to Bali, they were accommodated in separate quarters to the majority of Anzac’s ship’s company.

The crew assigned to their care, including one of the ship’s two doctors, wore personal protective equipment whenever they were in contact with the fishermen.

The fishermen also each returned three negative COVID-19 test results during their time on the ship.

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