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CG Responses Mid Atlantic June 2007

Recent responses from North Carolina and the South

Recent responses from North Carolina and the South

Call for help

Station Hatteras Inlet, N.C.

The Coast Guard rescued a commercial fisherman after his boat capsized in the Pamlico Sound near Clam Shoal. Communications watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet, N.C., received a distress call from the man. They used direction-finding equipment to determine a search area based on the VHF radio signal. A helicopter and C-130 airplane from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., were launched. Two rescue boats from Station Hatteras Inlet also searched, one on the ocean side and one in Pamlico Sound. The rescue boat on the Pamlico side spotted the man on a sandbar waving an orange rain jacket. The man had taken shelter in a small four-piling bungalow-style building on the shore after his boat capsized. The crew of the boat could not reach the man because of the water depth in the area, so they called the helicopter to the scene. The man was hoisted and was taken to a waiting ambulance at BillyMitchellAirport on Hatteras Island to be checked for hypothermia. (March 9)

Stranded with rising tide

Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Two adults and a child were plucked from a sandbar off Cedar Island, N.C., as the tide rose. A passerby on a jonboat called Carteret County 911 to report a family stranded on a sandbar in Drum Inlet near their sinking boat. Carteret County 911 called Coast Guard Sector N.C. for assistance. SectorN.C. search and rescue controllers launched a Marine Corps rescue helicopter from Air Station Cherry Point, and boats from Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet. Sea Level Fire and Rescue also deployed. The water depth prevented the boat crews from approaching, and they stood by at the scene until the Marine Corps helicopter finished hoisting the family. The family showed symptoms of mild hypothermia, and they were taken to CarteretGeneralHospital. The Coast Guard regularly works with the Marine Corps and other federal, state and local agencies to ensure the success of rescue missions. (March 12)

Possible hoax

Station Georgetown, S.C.

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for six missing boaters who reportedly were in trouble 600 yards east of the Spring Maid Fishing Pier and is investigating the call as a possible hoax. The crew at Coast Guard Station Georgetown, S.C., received a mayday call over VHF channel 16 that reported six people were aboard a 23-foot pleasure boat that was taking on water in the vicinity of the Spring Maid Fishing Pier. Coast Guard rescue coordinators lost communication with the boat shortly after the initial mayday call, and no other information about the boat was available. Two Coast Guard helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Ga., and Air Facility Charleston searched the area. Crews from Coast Guard Detached Duty Office Myrtle Beach, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, the Myrtle Beach Police Department and Horry County Fire Department conducted shore side searches of the area. A Coast Guard boat crew conducted a surface search of the area. All of the rescue crews were unable to turn up any signs of distress. Coast Guard rescue coordinators believed any debris or persons in the water would have drifted toward the beach. Rescue crews didn’t spot anything to lead them to believe that the 23-foot boat sank in the area. Weather in the search area made searches more dangerous and more difficult for Coast Guard helicopter crews. Weather conditions in the search area consisted of 30-knot sustained winds with 6- to 8-foot seas. One rescue boat costs about $500 an hour to operate. A Coast Guard helicopter costs more than $3,000 hourly to operate. For this case, the rescue boat crews searched a total of 1-1/2 hours and the helicopter crew searched a total of 5-1/2 hours, which cost taxpayers more than $21,000. (March 2)

Without a trace

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

The Coast Guard announced it had suspended the search for a fisherman off the coast of St. Augustine, Fla., who was reported missing by his brother. The 34-year-old man left from the Lighthouse Boat Ramp in St. Augustine to go for a day of recreational fishing. He was supposed to be back at 7 p.m. and when he didn’t show up, his brother called the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard launched an extensive search for the man and eventually found his boat with no one aboard 27 miles northeast of St. Augustine. The Coast Guard officially suspended its search after more than 39 hours. Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force crews from across the Southeastern United States assisted in the search. It included Coast Guard aircrews from Air Station Savannah, Ga., and Air Station Clearwater, Fla.; Navy aircrews from Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Air Force aircrews from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; Coast Guard boat crews from Station Mayport; and the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Kingfisher from Mayport. Rescue crews conducted 24 separate search sorties covering more than 4,300 square miles. Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force rescue crews searched for a combined 112 hours. The Coast Guard kept in close contact with the man’s family and kept them up to date on every aspect of the search since he was reported missing. (March 17)