SAN DIEGO: A US Navy warship reached a crippled sailboat hundreds of miles off the Mexican coast and was preparing on Sunday to complete the rescue of a sick one-year-old girl. 

THE REBELS: The Kaufmans were two weeks into a journey bound for the South Pacific islands and eventually New Zealand

The transfer of the child from the 36-foot boat The Rebel Heart to the ship was expected to start around dawn, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Barry Bena said on Sunday.

“Sometime this morning as soon as they get some light they are going to take the child off the boat and bring her aboard the naval vessel,” Bena said. A small boat will be used to carry out the operation and it will be safer during daylight, especially since the child's condition has stabilised, the spokesman said.

The girl’s family — parents and a three-year-old sister — were about 900 miles off Mexico on a cruise around the world when they sent a satellite ping for help to the US Coast Guard on Thursday about her illness. A family member said the Rebel Heart is owned by a San Diego couple, Charlotte and Eric Kaufman, whose daughter, Lyra, had developed a fever and a rash covering most of her body and who wasn’t responding to medications.

The California Air National Guard dispatched four rescuers, who parachuted into the water and reached the disabled vessel. The team was able to stabilise the girl and pointed the sailboat, which does not have steering or communication abilities, toward Mexico, the 129th Rescue Wing said in a statement. The rescuers stayed aboard The Rebel Heart and are keeping watch on the ill child until the Navy frigate transfers them to shore. The girl still requires medical treatment, and the rescuers planned to stay with her until she reaches a hospital, the statement said.

The Kaufmans, along with Lyra and Cora, were two weeks into a journey bound for the South Pacific islands and eventually New Zealand.

Speed at which the navy vessel USS Vandegrift churned to reach the stricken boat