CG Responses New England June 07

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Recent responses from New England and the East Coast

Recent responses from New England and the East Coast

Sunken boat located

Sector Northern New England, Maine

Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, in its ongoing investigation of the sinking of Lady Luck, a Newburyport, Mass.-based fishing boat missing since Feb. 1, located the fishing boat 20 nautical miles southeast of Portland, Maine, using a remote operated vehicle. The boat was located on the ocean floor at a depth of 530 feet, resting on its port side. No bodies were found during the search. Coast Guard Cutter Marcus Hanna, homeported in South Portland, Maine, served as the platform for the investigators who searched with the equipment, assisted by VideoRay (www.video ray.com). In addition to finding the boat, videotape of it was also obtained. The findings of the underwater search will help investigators determine the factors that led to the boat’s sinking, which will be publicly available when the case is completed. While locating and investigating a submerged fishing boat is not routine in a casualty investigation, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England decided to take these extraordinary steps due to the boat’s sudden disappearance and lack of evidence to indicate the cause of its loss. The investigators hope this action will eliminate some potential causes and possibly reveal what led to the sinking. The underwater exploration may also help investigators understand why essential boat safety equipment was not found when the incident originally occurred. The location where the boat sank could pose a hazard to other fishermen. The Coast Guard will also provide safety information to mariners regarding the boat’s exact offshore location. (March 20)

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)

Sailboat dismasted

Air Station Miami, Fla.

The Coast Guard rescued two men in FloridaBay about 20 miles south of Everglades City, Fla., after receiving an alert from an emergency transponder. After receiving the report, the Coast Guard immediately launched a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Miami. The helicopter’s crew located the two men in distress. The helicopter’s rescue swimmer was deployed and conducted a health check of the men before hoisting them. The two uninjured men were taken to Marathon Airport, Fla., and released. According to the men, their sailboat lost its mast in rough weather, but they rode out the adverse weather until sunrise when they decided to set off their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. The two men were wearing life jackets. (March 6)

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)