At the end of the Vietnam War, tens of thousands fled Saigon by sea.
One Vietnamese ship, the Truong Xuan, was packed with nearly four thousand refugees. When it began taking on water in the South China Sea, it sent out a distress call.
The S.O.S. was heard by Capt. Anton M. Olsen of the Danish freighter the Clara Mærsk.
Olsen turned the Clara around and, after searching for several hours, found the distressed vessel. All the refugees were taken on board in a 6-hour rescue operation on May 2, 1975.
Two days later, the Clara Mærsk arrived in Hong Kong, where the refugees were dropped off.
At least 2 babies were born on the Clara en route to Hong Kong, and one of those babies was named Clara after the ship.
In a blog post about the Clara Mærsk, the Maersk Line itself called the Clara Mærsk rescue story “the most extraordinary story in the history of our company.”
Source: “More Refugees Reach Hong Kong.” Lewiston Daily Sun 5 May 1975: 15.
Image: Clara Mærsk in the Panama Canal by Maersk Line