UAE satellite company rescues Chinese fishermen stranded in Japanese waters

The rescue mission is the second-of-its-kind; seven fishermen stranded in international waters between the Philippines and Indonesia were saved in November 2022


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 22 Jun 2023, 3:10 PM

A group of Chinese fishermen stranded in Japanese waters have been tracked and rescued in a cross-border operation involving the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider.

Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and its mobility arm Thuraya Telecommunications Company worked closely with Chinese governmental agencies, including the Chinese Embassy in Abu Dhabi and its Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to save the lives of fishermen.

The incident took place on May 20, when Yahsat’s customer care team received an emergency call for assistance from the embassy. The call was made on behalf of China’s MRCC after they were alerted that a few Chinese fishermen and their boat were missing. The MRCC reached out to the embassy to connect with Yahsat and Thuraya as the boat was equipped with a Thuraya MarineStar terminal, hence locating the boat was possible.

Ali Al Hashemi, Yahsat’s Group CEO, said the successful mission demonstrates that Yahsat’s and Thuraya’s cutting-edge solutions are not only crucial for empowering business activities, but more importantly vital for saving lives.

“This rescue is a strong and enduring testament of the excellent relationship we as a company have with various agencies at the international level, including Chinese governmental entities. In such types of operations, quick action is imperative to locate and rescue individuals who are in danger. Fortunately, we were able to find out the whereabouts of the fishermen in time, thanks to the Thuraya MarineStar terminal installed on their boat, which allowed us to pass that information onto relevant Chinese authorities.”

Last week, two senior officials from the embassy visited Yahsat’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi to thank the management and staff for their timely support and explored possibilities of strengthening safety services on small boats, especially fishing vessels. Senior executives from Yahsat briefed the visiting diplomats on the numerous advantages of Thuraya’s satellite communications equipment.

Tan Junyao, First Secretary for Transport at the Embassy of China in the UAE, said: “Satellite communication plays a critical role in emergency response, search and rescue operations in remote waters. Yahsat provided the support to MRCCs at short notice, and their timely locating the missing persons enables quick and effective international search and rescue coordination, thus increasing the probability of successful rescue of persons in distress. By working together in such an effective and rapid manner, we were able to protect the safety of people at sea. We look forward to exploring various ways with Yahsat to further strengthen safety awareness for small boats and thereby safeguard the lives of fishermen in the future.”

The rescue mission is the second-of-its-kind involving Yahsat’s direct contribution in the last eight months, as seven fishermen stranded in international waters between the Philippines and Indonesia were saved in November 2022. Their boat was equipped with a Thuraya XT-LITE satellite phone, which enabled them to make a distress call.

In 2022 alone, Yahsat saved close to 130 lives through direct intervention by its customer care as part of the group’s ‘Save Lives’ campaign.


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