In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks is floating on his raft out in the ocean when a large freighter-type vessel lumbers into the shot. The next scene is Tom going back to civilization, the implication being that meeting this ship effected his rescue. (This thread is not to nit-pick the movie.)
OK, so what if that situation really happened? Assume a large oil tanker or container ship encounters some poor soul floating in a life raft (although not on a collision course). Assume also that there happens to be someone on the bow that sees and correctly identifies the situation.
My general question is this: What would the captain do? Would such a large ship be capable of plucking someone from the sea by itself? Or would they have to call the nearest navy/coast guard to send a rescue team?
In your answer, please address the following:
- Would a big, fully loaded tanker going top speed be able to stop in enough time that they’d still be able to see the raft (behind them by this time), much less rescue the occupant(s)?
- Do these kinds of ships have a small runabout they can launch and retrieve at sea?
- Do they have any training/equipment whatsoever specifically meant for this type of situation? (I assume it’s quite rare for a tanker to encounter a ‘drifter’ in the open ocean, so I suspect there isn’t a lot of time & energy spent on training and equipment. On the other hand, isn’t there such a thing as a “man overboard” drill? What do they do when there’s a man overboard? Wouldn’t encountering a life raft be very similar?)
- Lastly (and this is not a nit-pick, I swear!) – wouldn’t a big, fully loaded tanker going top speed and passing within a hundred yards or so of a flimsy raft maybe, uh… tip the raft with it’s wake?