It turns out that writing the word “help” on a beach to signal rescuers is not just a Hollywood myth. Three anglers stranded on a remote island over 2,000 miles from Hawaii were rescued by the US Coast Guard recently after they have been missing since April 5. According to the Coast Guard’s Hawaii Pacific division, the sailors were capsized after being struck by a large wave and had to swim overnight to the island of Fanadik in Micronesia. Fortunately, they did have life vests on.

Officials noted that rescues in such a remote part of the world are never easy. To combat the vast distances and multitude of uninhabited islands in the region, the Coast Guard works closely with the US Navy and other organizations.

“The Coast Guard 14th District covers an area of responsibility more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, an area almost twice the size of Russia,” Jennifer Conklin,  mission coordinator at the Coast Guard Command Center in Honolulu, said in a press release. “Oftentimes, we are thousands of miles away from those who need help and because of that our partnerships with the Navy, other search and rescue organizations, partner Pacific nations and AMVER are essential.”

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The Federated States of Micronesia relies on these agencies to carry out search and rescue services, which can be daunting considering there are roughly 600 islands in the area. Officials say that by keeping their brightly-colored life vests on and building the “help” sign, the sailors aided greatly in the search. The actual letters of the message was created with palm fronds.

“Through the partnership of ‪#‎USCG‬ and the U.S. Navy they were rescued,” the Coast Guard said in a statement online. “The Coast Guard also worked with Amver to enlist the help of volunteer commercial vessels to search for the men. Ingenuity of these men to build their sign and the preparedness of having lifejackets also contributed to their safe rescue. These partnerships are critical to successful search and rescue cases in remote parts of the Pacific.”

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Images courtesy Ensign John Knight/US Navy

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