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An Australian man attempting to row across the Pacific Ocean alone was rescued Friday by a cruise ship after his boat capsized, leaving him naked and adrift at sea in a “life or death” situation, according to his rescuers.

Tom Robinson, of Brisbane, had set off on a journey to become the youngest person ever to row across the Pacific Ocean when he ran into bad weather and rough seas on Thursday night, according to New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (COSS) and P&O Cruises Australia.

Robinson activated his distress beacon more than 60 miles west of Malakula Island of Vanuatu, an archipelago of about 80 islands located east of Australia near New Caledonia.

COSS said it received the distress signal but was unable to communicate with the boat. 


Tom Robinson spotted on capsized boat

Tom Robinson was spotted from the air sitting naked atop his capsized boat in the Pacific Ocean, about 60 miles from the Vanuatu archipelago, officials said. (New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre )

The maritime service called the Pacific Explorer, a cruise ship with P&O Cruises Australia that was sailing in the area with 2,000 guests on a 9-day round-trip voyage from Auckland, New Zealand, to help search for the vessel in distress.

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    A French navy aircraft helped search for Tom Robinson as P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer ship responded to help the adrift traveler. (New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre )

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    P&O Cruises Australia said the crew faced tough conditions to save Tom Robinson, and thanked their 2,000 guests aboard the ship for their understanding. (New Caledonia’s Marine Rescue Coordination Centre )

The cruise line told Fox News Digital in a statement that the ship’s captain immediately diverted course to help the stranded voyager.

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    Tom Robinson suffered sunburn and dehydration. He was treated aboard the cruise ship. (P&O Cruises Australia)

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    Tom Robinson was also given a fresh set of clothes following his rescue. (P&O Cruises Australia)

The cruise liner maneuvered through the challenging weather conditions and found Robinson sitting naked on top of the overturned boat. The crew immediately brought him to safety aboard the ship Friday morning.

capsized boat

The cruise ship’s crew brought Tom Robinson to safety on board the ship. (P&O Cruises Australia)

“Tom’s a really lucky man,” said Peter Little, senior vice president of P&O Cruises Australia. “These were very challenging conditions. We appreciate our guests’ understanding that this was a life-or-death matter.” 


Robinson suffered a sunburn and dehydration during the ordeal. He was given medical treatment on board the cruise ship along with fresh clothes and a hot meal. Officials said he is in good health.

Robinson was pictured wearing a Pacific Explorer shirt and smiling with members of the ship’s crew.

Tom Robinson with crew

Tom Robinson thanked the cruise ship’s crew for coming to his aid. (P&O Cruises Australia)

“I’d just like to say a huge thank you to all the crew on P&O Pacific Explorer whose seamanship and professionalism ensured a safe rescue,” Robinson said in a statement. “Once aboard 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.” 

Robinson’s rescue marked the second vessel in distress that the Pacific Explorer responded to within a two-week period in the South Pacific.


“”We will always go to the aid of a seafarer in distress,” Little said. “These are very serious situations.”

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