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Philadelphia Customs and Border Protection Help Rescue UK Sailor

Release Date: 
June 3, 2020

PHILADELPHIA – A United Kingdom citizen, plucked from his disabled sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean by a good Samaritan merchant ship, is quickly heading home due to the immediate humanitarian accommodation by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Philadelphia today.

William Brannan was sailing from St. Maarten to the United Kingdom aboard the S/Y Helena when a storm rolled and dismasted his vessel May 22. An international rescue operation started after Brennan energized his Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

The Philadelphia-bound M/T Seaways Reymar, the closest vessel to Brannan, rescued him the following day from the stricken sailing yacht and delivered him to Philadelphia this morning.

File image of an OFO patch on a CBP officer working at an airport port of entry with blurred travelers in the background.CBP officers responded to the Seaways Reymar today and processed the vessel’s crew and Brannan, who lost his identification and travel documents after being forced to abandon his vessel at sea. Officers issued a waiver for the lack of a passport and visa to allow Brannan to transit the U.S. in order to travel home, while also working closely with the U.K. Consulate to initiate new identity and travel documents.

Read more about Brannan’s experience losing the S/Y Helena and subsequent rescue here and here.

“We can appreciate Mr. Brannan’s harrowing experience and we worked to help him to immediately continue his journey home to the United Kingdom,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “Customs and Border Protection is pleased to be a part of this extraordinary rescue operation, and the incredible care exercised by our officers to accommodate his admissions processing is a direct reflection of the professionalism and compassion exhibited by all CBP officers.”

CBP's border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations.  Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at

Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore and on Instagram at @dfobaltimore for breaking news, current events, human-interest stories and photos.