Recent responses from around the nation
An entanglement team from the Center for Coastal Studies attempts to free an entangled humpback whale from a lobster pot and netting eight miles east of Sandy Hook, N.J.
Fishermen rescued from life raft
Sector Northern New England, Maine
The Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol rescued two fishermen after their boat began taking on water and sinking about seven miles east of Biddeford Pool. The two men were aboard the 44-foot fishing boat when they believed it struck a submerged object. The boat began taking on water, and the on-board pumps were not keeping up. They radioed for help and then climbed into the boat’s life raft to wait for assistance. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland issued an urgent marine information broadcast. Hearing the broadcast, a Maine Marine Patrol boat located and recovered the two uninjured men from the life raft and brought them to the sector. The fishing boat was partially submerged. The boat had about 100 gallons of fuel on board. Coast Guard Cutter Flyingfish, which also responded to the distress call, remained with the fishing boat and reported no signs of pollution. Sector Northern New England was broadcasting safety messages to warn mariners in the area that the boat was protruding from the water and posed a danger to passing boats. (Jan. 26)
Hundreds stranded on ice floe
Oak Harbor, Ohio
The Coast Guard and multiple state and local agencies rescued several hundred people stranded on an ice floe in western Lake Erie near Oak Harbor, Ohio. Between 300 to 500 people were reported on the ice floe. Responding agencies included: Coast Guard Air Stations Detroit, Traverse City, Mich., and Elizabeth City, N.C.; Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, Coast Guard stations Toledo, Ohio, Belle Isle, Mich., St. Clair Shores, Mich., and Marblehead, Ohio; Canadian Coast Guard; Ohio State Patrol, Monroe County Sheriff; Jervis, Carol and Washington Townships; and Toledo Lifeflight. The Coast Guard reported that, though they were not sure why the people were on the ice, their primary goal was to safely remove all the people. (Feb. 7)
Fight aboard fishing vessel
Station Channel Islands Harbor, Calif.
Coast Guard members from Station Channel Islands Harbor and Ventura County sheriff deputies responded to a fight that occurred aboard a commercial fishing boat early in the morning off the coast of Ventura, Calif. Coast Guard boarding team members and sheriff deputies took those involved in the fight into custody. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the fishing boat had several safety violations including no EPIRB, and all of the fire extinguishers and flares on board were expended. Those apprehended were put in custody and the incident was under investigation. (Jan. 28)
Man rescued from explosion
Station Oak Island, N.C.
A man was rescued 20 minutes after making a mayday call reporting an explosion on board his 60-foot fishing boat 20 nautical miles from Masonboro Inlet. The captain of the boat expended all firefighting capabilities and abandoned ship into his life raft with a 406 MHz EPIRB. Coast Guard stations Wrightsville Beach and Oak Island launched rescue boat crews to the location received from the EPIRB. Coast Guard watchstanders also issued an urgent marine information broadcast to inform other mariners of his distress. The captain of another fishing boat responded to the broadcast and came alongside the life raft to pick up the captain. The Station Oak Island crew arrived and recovered the captain, who was taken to Station Wrightsville Beach and met with EMS for minor burns on his hands. He did not require any further medical assistance. Coast Guard watchstanders were transmitting a Safety Marine Information Broadcast to notify other mariners of the abandoned ship. (Feb. 8)
Coast Guard rescues two from sailboat
Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
The Coast Guard rescued two people aboard a disabled sailboat 37 miles southeast of Cape Fear. The Coast Guard received a mayday call from a crewmember and received an EPIRB signal. Coast Guard rescue helicopter crews from Air Station Elizabeth City and Air Facility Charleston, S.C., arrived and established communication with the crewmembers of the sailboat, who reported they had lost power and had torn sails. A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach arrived and towed the sailboat up the Cape Fear River, then transferred the tow to a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oak Island, who towed them to a local marina.
The triangulated position of the mayday call provided a search area that was about 40 miles different than the actual position, according to a watchstander at the 5th Coast Guard District command center, but the EPIRB provided more accurate information. Since the sailboat’s EPIRB had been properly registered and was up to date, rescuers were quickly able to determine specific information about the sailboat. A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter was launched from Air Facility Charleston to the GPS position. New direction-finding equipment recently installed on the helicopter allowed the crew to pick up the GPS and hone in on the signal. The Coast Guard reported they picked up the EPIRB signal at 25 miles, and at 11 miles were able to lock on the position. (Jan. 25)
Coast Guard responders rescue man overboard
Air Station Los Angeles
Local Coast Guard crews rescued a man after he fell overboard from his pleasure boat in transit from Channel Islands Harbor. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach received a report from an oil platform, located offshore Channel Islands Harbor, that there was a man in the water. The platform lowered their ladder into the water, but the man was fatigued and unable to lift himself onto the platform. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach immediately launched a 25-foot response boat from Station Channel Islands and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Los Angeles, which was in the vicinity conducting operations at the time of the distress call. The HH-65 was the first asset to arrive and lowered a rescue swimmer into the water. The rescue swimmer kept the man afloat. The 25-foot response boat responded shortly after and was able to bring the hypothermic man into the boat. He told the boat crew he had fallen overboard from his 35-foot Viking motoryacht during his transit from Channel Islands Harbor to the west end of Anacapa Island. He reported he had been in the water since early in the morning and fallen overboard while the motoryacht was in autopilot. He was safely transported to Channel Islands harbor where he was attended to by local EMS. The Coast Guard issued a Safety Notice to Mariners in reference to the whereabouts of the man’s Viking motoryacht. (Feb. 17)
This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue.