While conducting mapping surveys west of Key West, Fla. the evening of August 14, the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson heard a radio report from the U.S. Coast Guard that a small aircraft with one person aboard had crashed in the water about 30 miles away from the vessel. The crew of the Thomas Jefferson immediately contacted the Coast Guard to advise they would help with the search and rescue operation and proceeded to steam toward the reported position.
This is not your typical NOAA press release. The ship responded to the cry for help, used their knowledge of ocean currents and effected a rescue of the downed pilot.
Take a closer look at the figure. They calculated the drift for 4 hours and set up the search pattern from that point but they found him almost exactly 3 hours from when contact was lost. He was short of where they expected but on a direct line from where he was reported down and where they expected him.
If you notice, their path took them on a directly parallel course to the drift path they calculated. Quite a success. And very accurate calculations. I guess the Theory of Relativity is worth something, since we have GPS devices that can so accurately place the ship where it needed to go.