BUTARITARI ATOLL (HawaiiNewsNow) - On November fourth, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter "Rush" received a call for help from the Maritime Police branch near Butaritari atoll.
A thirteen-foot boat carrying a family of four had been missing since the thirty-first of October.
Along with a New Zealand rescue plane, they immediately began searching for the small watercraft.
The next day the New Zealand P-3 aircraft spotted the boat over two hundred miles from their last known location. They reported that the passengers were up and waving at the aircraft. The Rush was within sixty nautical miles from the boat and hurried to find the survivors.
Captain Jim McCauley headed the rescue off of the Coast Guard cutter. "They were in remarkable condition for having spent nearly six days in a boat, in the Pacific with no food, no water, well I guess they had a few pieces of fruit before they departed." he told us over the phone.
The family of four included a husband and wife, fifty-three and fifty-four and their two sons, seven and eight years old.
The survivors were brought aboard the rescue vessel and treated for dehydration, exposure and malnourishment.
The children were also given a stuffed lion by the ship's crew.
Once they were treated the family was flown back by helicopter to their home island of Butari where they were greeted by an unexpected and warm welcome.
"Hundreds of people flocked out there to the soccer field to witness the return of their friends and family members. It was really quite moving." said Captain McCauley.
Using specialized software, the U.S. Coast Guard and the New Zealand Air Force were able to centralize the search to a specific region of the ocean.
"It was excellent. It's a great example of how technology and how our international partnership with New Zealand was seamless and produced positive results." said local Commander Mark Morin from the U.S. Coast Guard Incident Management Division.