A lesson in maritime rescue

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MARCH 26 -- Students from a maritime academy on a 10-day marine science expedition aboard an 80-foot schooner Thursday helped rescue three fishermen who were clinging to their overturned boat off the Florida Keys.

The group of 29 students, with teachers and crew from the Riviera BeachMaritimeAcademy, were aboard the replica 19th-century schooner Dennis Sullivan when they spotted three red flares go off, the Coast Guard says in a news release. When the Dennis Sullivan arrived on scene, about 11 miles southeast of Islamorada, Fla., the students found the fishermen holding onto their partially submerged 33-foot fishing boat.

While the Coast Guard launched a 33-foot rescue boat, the students helped the ailing fisherman aboard the Dennis Sullivan, the agency says. During the rescue, however, the Dennis Sullivan and the partially sunken boat collided, causing a 1-foot puncture in the schooner’s hull.

The Coast Guard launched a HH-65 helicopter and another rescue vessel to deliver water pumps to the Dennis Sullivan, according to the news release. Rescue crews were able to pump water from the boat and patch the hole. The fishermen were transported to a hospital in Islamorada.

The Dennis Sullivan crew declined assistance from a commercial salvage company, the Coast Guard says, and was sailing to Key West, Fla., for repairs.

Jason Fell