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Rescued Australian Ocean Rower Tom Robinson Safely Aboard Pacific Explorer Cruise Ship

In a remarkable maritime rescue operation, a young Australian athlete was plucked from the waters of the Pacific Ocean by the Pacific Explorer cruise ship. Tom Mahuta Robinson, a 24-year-old from Brisbane, found himself in trouble during his quest to become the youngest person to row solo across the vast Pacific.

The rescue unfolded in the early hours of this morning late last week when Robinson’s rowing boat sent out a mayday signal.

The distress signal, dispatched shortly before 9 pm the previous night, was swiftly coordinated by the Noumea Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC). The Auckland-based Pacific Explorer cruise ship, was the first to respond to the call for help.

The French Navy in New Caledonia also lent their support, deploying aerial resources in a search for the vessel. Throughout the night, Robinson clung to the upturned hull of his 24-foot rowing boat, known as the “Maimar.”

The breaking dawn brought salvation, as the Pacific Explorer approached his location. On board the cruise ship, passengers were astounded by the surreal spectacle of a lone rower being rescued from the vastness of the open sea. Jason Ballantyne, one of the passengers, described the moment as “quite surreal seeing someone rescued so far out to sea.”

The fortunate discovery that there was only one soul adrift, albeit suffering from sunburn and dehydration, was met with collective relief among the cruise guests. Robinson, clad in scant clothing and clutching his locator beacon, was safely hoisted aboard the Pacific Explorer.

Now safely aboard the cruise ship, Robinson is in good spirits. In a statement conveyed through Carnival Australia, he expressed heartfelt gratitude, stating, “I was treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness by the medical staff. Many, many thanks to P&O for everything they have done for me.”

Less than six hours after his experience, Robinson was photographed beaming alongside the Pacific Explorer’s crew, a testament to his indomitable spirit and the heroic efforts of those who saved him.

Carnival Australia, the operator of the Pacific Explorer, commended Captain Alan Nixon and the entire crew for their exemplary rescue work. A spokesperson expressed gratitude to the ship’s guests for their understanding during this unforeseen ordeal.

The Pacific Explorer, on a nine-day round-trip voyage from Auckland with 2,000 guests, has resumed its course, heading back to Auckland.

Tom Mahuta Robinson had been on the brink of completing his year-long odyssey—a daring adventure that had seen him row from the shores of South America all the way back to his beloved Brisbane. His epic journey, which commenced in Lima, Peru, in July 2022, had recently included a stop in Luganville, Vanuatu.

A statement from Carnival Cruises Said, “This morning, P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer rescued solo rower Tom Robinson, when his vessel was damaged, west of Vanuatu. In challenging conditions, the crew was able to rescue Tom from his upturned vessel. He is now safely onboard, receiving medical treatment, fresh clothes and a hot meal. We thank our crew, led by Captain Alan Nixon, for their efforts to once again rescue a fellow mariner in distress. It’s the second time in two weeks Pacific Explorer has rendered assistance in the South Pacific, continuing our long-standing practice of assisting those in distress at sea.”