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CBP Processes Three Survivors of Disabled Vessel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers assigned to the port of New Orleans processed for entry three shipwreck survivors Wednesday morning.

On April 24, four individuals: a U.S. citizen, Argentine, Antiguan, and British captain set out from Antigua and Barbuda for a month-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Barcelona. After only five days, their sailboat's generator broke down, but they intended to continue and ration their supplies and batteries for their GPS and other electronics. However, on May 15 foul weather broke their foresail, and the boom began swinging wildly in the 60-knot winds. They were able to communicate by radio with nearby ships that informed them the weather would only get worse.

"There was this terrible weather, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, appears this tanker," said Vanessa, one of the survivors. With an oil tanker suddenly at their side, they made the decision to abandon ship and work with the tanker crew to extricate themselves. After three attempts, one of the tanker's engineers, an Indian national with prior military service, used a rescue rope launching gun and fired a perfect shot at the hands of the Argentine survivor. All but the captain were taken onto the tanker to safety, although the Antiguan was suffering from hypothermia and required medical assistance. The captain later made his way to the Azores archipelago.

The tanker's next port of call was New Orleans, though it would not be a direct voyage. The survivors spent 24 days on the tanker, playing ping pong, exercising, reading books and celebrating four different crew members' birthdays. Eventually, they debarked from the tanker in the Mississippi River to the New Orleans Airport where they were able to book flights. As they had left Antiguan and Barbuda and never formally entered the U.S., they required proper immigration processing. CBP Officers expeditiously processed the survivors, one of whom required humanitarian relief as he did not have a non-immigration visa, and allowed the three to continue their travels.