Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Two people rescued from water in Torres Strait by passing tanker

Thursday 3 December 2020

A Marshall Islands-flagged tanker transiting the Torres Strait this morning has helped rescue two people from the water after their boat sank.

Media Release

At about 7.15am AEST on Thursday, 3rd December 2020 a coastal pilot on board the MT Godam contacted Townsville Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) to report a sighting of two people clinging to a timber plank in the water.

The location for the sighting was about 10km southeast of Sue Islet, Warraber Reef. Conditions were rough with two to three metre swells with around 30 knot winds.

Townsville VTS immediately contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) who tasked its Challenger search and rescue jet from Cairns and a Queensland Government rescue helicopter to the area.

Both aircraft arrived on scene at about 9am, at which point in time the tanker’s crew had managed to retrieve one person from the water successfully. The second person was rescued from the water by the rescue helicopter.

The tanker maintained visual contact with both people throughout the rescue operation despite the challenging conditions.

Both survivors were transferred by the rescue helicopter to medical facilities on Thursday Island.

The cause of the boat sinking is unclear at this early stage. AMSA understands they were in the water since 4pm yesterday.

AMSA would like to thank everyone involved in this rapid, collaborative and effective search and rescue which upholds the spirit of the great maritime tradition of coming to the aid of those in need.