The U.S. Coast Guard, working with a merchant tanker has rescued 18 Ecuadorian fishermen after their vessel sank about 300 miles to the north of the Galapagos Islands.

The rescue coordination center for the Eleventh Coast Guard District in Alameda, California, received an EPIRB alert from an unknown vessel to the north of the Galapagos Islands while district watchstanders called for aerial eyes on the scene and notified authorities in Ecuador, who began to look into the EPIRB’s registration.

Using the AMVER system, the Coast Guard called for mariner assistance. The product tanker, Hai Soon 26, which was located about 70 nm to the north of the beacon location, responded that they were willing to divert and provide aid.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian response officials learned that the vessel in distress was the fishing vessel Romeo, which was taking on water with 18 people aboard.

The support aircraft arrived on scene and found the capsized vessel and life raft. The aircrew directed the Hai Soon 26 to the scene. When the tanker arrived, her crew quickly swung into action and safely evacuated the 18 fishermen, five people from a life raft and 13 more from the sinking fishing boat.

“It was a great partnership to provide a timely air response as well as working with the AMVER program to render timely assistance,” said PO1 Timothy Spencer of the 11th Coast Guard District command center.

“Ecuador was able to assist with providing more information on the case because the EPIRB didn’t have identifying features.”

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