Coast Guard busy with weekend rescues

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The Coast Guard rescued a family and their two dogs on Sunday. The group was stranded on Dog Island, south of Carrabelle, Fla., by inclement weather caused by Tropical Storm Debby.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Mobile received a cell phone call at approximately 12:30 p.m. from a man reporting his family of five adults, four children and two dogs were stranded in a vacation house located on a narrow sandbar at the southwest portion of Dog Island.

Water was reportedly surrounding the house, and there was no way for them to evacuate to higher ground.

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Meanwhile, watchstanders at the Coast Guard 5th District command center in Portsmouth, Va. coordinated a rescue approximately 750 miles southeast of Bermuda on Saturday.

At approximately 8:30 a.m., the watchstanders received an HF radio Digital Selective Calling distress alert from a crewmember aboard the Maersk Bitan, a 675–foot freight ship, stating that a crewmember was missing and believed overboard.

The watchstanders called the Maersk Bitan and gathered as much information as they could from the crew.

“We asked, when was the person last seen, where the ship was at that time, when did the crew notice the man was missing and where the ship was when they knew they had a man overboard,” said chief petty officer Heath Blanton, a watchstander with the Coast Guard 5th District command center. “Once those facts were gathered, we began the search planning using the Search And Rescue Optimal Planning System simulation model to track where the currents would drift a person based on all the environmental factors.”

The watchstanders sent out an enhanced group call then using AMVER, the Automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue system, they asked the captains of the Summer Flower, and the Phoenix Beauty to assist the crew of the Maersk Bitan with the search.

A crew aboard an HC-130 Hercules from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City in Elizabeth City N.C. was launched to aid in the search.

Before arriving on scene, a crewmember aboard the Maersk Bitan contacted the command center at approximately 3 p.m. and reported they had located the man treading water in the search area supplied by the Coast Guard watchstanders.

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