Cruise Ship Rescues 3 Men Stranded on Life Raft in the Middle of the Sea

Cruise ship staff rescued three men stranded on a life raft in the South Pacific on Thursday, according to reports.

The three individuals—two from Australia and one from the U.K.—were forced to abandon the yacht they were travelling on when it began taking on water in the waters off New Caledonia, a French territory comprising dozens of islands.

The problems started after a thick rope which had been floating in the ocean became caught in the engine, tearing a hole in the hull, The Australian reported.

"It was just panic stations," Ben Johnson, one of the three seafarers, told the newspaper. "We had manual pumps, bilge pumps going non-stop."

Realizing the seriousness of their predicament, Johnson made several calls to alert people of the situation.

"I just quickly got on the phone and contacted everybody I could get hold of at that time in the morning," he said. "Thankfully, I got hold of my wife."

Johnson's wife then reportedly contacted marine authorities in Noumea—the capital of New Caledonia—who alerted a P&O Cruises vessel in the area of the distress call.

The 811-foot-long Pacific Dawn—which was in the middle of a seven-night cruise of the South Pacific—diverted from its planned route and made a beeline for the stranded yachtsmen.

"Shortly after... we got the call that P&O were on their way," Johnson said. "We'd abandoned ship by then because we were listing. She [the yacht] was in very bad shape."

Eventually, the Pacific Dawn—which was carrying around 2,000 people—reached the three men floating in their life raft, and a rescue vessel was dispatched to retrieve them.

"Oh my god, it was just emotion... I was so grateful," Johnson said, describing the moment he saw the rescue vessel.

"I was looking at spending the whole night at sea and we only had to spend two and a half hours in the life raft," he said.

The cruise company says that yacht sank during the rescue of the three men. They are now travelling onboard the ship which will arrive in Brisbane on the eastern coast of Australia on Saturday as scheduled, 7NEWS reported.

"Our wonderful Pacific Dawn team have followed the highest maritime traditions going to the aid of fellow seafarers in peril," read a statement from P&O Cruises Australia on their Facebook page.

"Marine rescue authorities in Noumea asked Pacific Dawn to divert to assist the three seafarers after receiving their distress call," the statement read. "All three are now safely aboard Pacific Dawn and being cared for by our devoted onboard team. It is wonderful to know that the three seafarers are safe and well. The Captain gave guests regular updates on the sea rescue mission."

Pacific Dawn, ocean rescue
A rescue vessel from the Pacific Dawn approaching the life raft. P&O Australia