H-E-L-P: Three shipwrecked sailors rescued off Pacific island by Navy, Coast Guard by spelling ‘help’ in sand with palm fronds

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Three castaways were rescued from a desert Pacific island after they used palm fronds in the sand to alert the Navy to their whereabouts.

Search crews spotted the missing seamen Thursday after they spelled “help” along the sandy beach and waved bright orange life jackets to get the attention of a passing Navy P-8 airplane.

“Our combined efforts coupled with the willingness of many different resources to come together and help, led to the successful rescue of these three men in a very remote part of the Pacific,” said Lt. William White, Sector Guam public affairs officer.

The castaways stand on a beach where they swimmed ashore this week after their boat capsized. NAVY ENSIGN JOHN H. KNIGHT/U.S. PACIFIC FLEET VIA FLICKR

The castaways stand on a beach where they swimmed ashore this week after their boat capsized.

The sailors went missing Tuesday while sailing to Weno Island, a tiny Micronesian atoll in the state of Chuuk. Four nautical miles into their trek, a giant wave capsized their 19-foot skiff, forcing the trio to swim all night to a deserted island known as Fandadik.

They fashioned a distress signal with leaves, which caught the attention of a U.S. Navy crew from Japan.

The men were taken to Pulap, while family members were relayed the good news from search and rescue watchstanders in Guam.

A stranded sailor waves bright orange life jackets from the beach after spotting a Naval crew. NAVY ENSIGN JOHN H. KNIGHT/U.S. PACIFIC FLEET VIA FLICKR

A stranded sailor waves bright orange life jackets from the beach after spotting a Naval crew.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Navy and AMVER — Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue — all combined on the mission.

The Coast Guard 14th District has completed seven different search and rescues since March 28, resulting in 15 lives saved, according to a statement from the agency.

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