Stranded sailors are found on a tiny Pacific island after their SOS message desperately written in the sand was spotted by Australian pilots

  • The three men became stranded on the island after their boat ran out of fuel 
  • The sailers drew a large SOS on the sand and hoped someone would find them 
  • They were seen by Australian and US aircraft on Pikelot Island, western Pacific 

Three missing sailors have been found on a tiny island in the Western Pacific after they wrote a large SOS message in the sand that was spotted from the air by Australian pilots. 

The men were found on Sunday after they had been missing for three days and were ‘in good health,’ the Australian Defence Ministry said.

Their call for help, written on the beach of Pikelot Island, 190km west of where they had set out from on July 30, was seen by Australian and US aircraft. 

The men were found on Sunday after they had been missing for three days and were ‘in good health,’ the Australian Defence Ministry said 

The men were reportedly sailing between the atolls Poluwat and Pulap, a journey of 42km, when they veered off course and ran out of fuel.

The Australian Defence Force had been asked to support a search-and-rescue effort by the Rescue and Coordination Centre in Guam on August 1 after reports the men were missing.

The HMAS Canberra joined the operation while returning to Australia and sailed overnight to reach the search area.

With assistance from US Aircraft operating out of Guam, the HMAS Canberra located the sailors on the island. 

An Army reconnaissance helicopter landed on the island and delivered food and water to the three men. 

They confirmed the identities of the sailors and checked to see if they had suffered any injuries. 

A Micronesian patrol vessel, FSS Independence, is heading to the island to pick up the men. 

Their call for help, written on the beach of Pikelot Island, 190 kilometres west of where they had set out on July 30, was seen by Australian and US aircraft (pictured: The SOS message written in the sand)

Canberra’s Commanding Officer Captain Terry Morrison said the response by the ship’s company to the operation was outstanding.

‘The ship’s company responded to the call and had the ship quickly prepared to support the search and rescue,’ Captain Morrison said.

‘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.

‘I am proud of the response and professionalism of all on board as we fulfil our obligation to contribute to the safety of life at sea wherever we are in the world.’

Pikelot Island, which is only 450 metres long, is part of the Caroline Islands, a scattered archipelago in the western Pacific. 

The HMAS Canberra located the three men and provided supplies to the helicopter which delivered them to the beach 

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