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Coast Guard response report

Cooperative assistance

Station Barnegat Light, N.J.

A 78-foot scalloper that was disabled in harsh weather conditions was making its way back to port after an intense cooperative effort between several fishing boats and Coast Guard crews. The scalloper, home-ported in Hampton, Va., was left floundering 60 miles off of Cape May, N.J., after a rogue wave washed over the pilothouse knocking out the boat’s electronics, compass, global positioning system and partially damaging the steering. Another fishing boat in the area noticed that the scalloper was in trouble. The second fishing boat notified a 72-foot troller and requested they contact the Coast Guard. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter from Air Station Atlantic City arrived on scene to assess the situation. With wind gusts up to 62 miles per hour and 30-foot sea swells, the crewmembers of the rescue helicopter lowered a marine radio down to the scalloper which was then able to establish limited communications with the other fishing boats nearby. Crewmembers on the scalloper indicated that all of the windows in the pilothouse had been broken out, but they were all wearing dry suits. Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light deployed two 47-foot rescue boats which arrived on scene and began to escort the scalloper toward land. (March 9)

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Fishing boat fire

Station Point Allerton, Mass.

Two fishermen have been rescued and one fisherman remained missing after their 44-foot commercial fishing boat caught fire five miles northeast of Scituate Harbor. The boat, registered in Scituate, Mass., reportedly had three passengers on board. The extent of injuries was unknown at the time. The crew of a nearby fishing boat, which witnessed the fire, rescued two fishermen from a life raft and transported them to Scituate Harbor, where they were transferred to Emergency Medical Services Personnel. One man was transported by EMS to South Shore Hospital. The other was flown by Med Flight to Massachusetts General Hospital. When the Coast Guard was notified of the boat fire, Station Point Allerton dispatched a 41-foot and two 47-foot rescue boats to the scene and Air Station Cape Cod launched an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter. Crewmembers from Station Point Allerton extinguished the fire and the fishing boat has reportedly sunk. The Coast Guard later suspended the active search for one of the missing fishermen. After searching 500 square miles over a 17-hour period, the man remained missing. Crewmembers aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Tybee, two rescue boats from Station Point Allerton and HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrews combined their search and rescue efforts and completed searches throughout the night and first light with no sightings. Sea conditions were reported to be heavy with low visibility, winds at 18-22 knots, 10-foot seas and 36-degree water temperature. The cause of the fire was unknown. Coast Guard Sector Boston will conduct the marine casualty investigation. (Feb. 21)

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Body found among debris

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

The Coast Guard’s search for an overdue 32-foot fishing boat resulted in the discovery of debris from the vessel and what is believed to be the deceased body of one of the two missing crewmen. The body was located 58 miles west of Anna Maria Island. The boat’s roof was found 64 miles west of the island. The search for the second crewman continues. The boat was reported overdue at Bay Pines Marina after not showing up as expected. Last communications with the boat crew occurred as they made their transit home. The crewmen were believed to have been fishing in a popular area called “The Elbow,” located about 73 miles west of John’s Pass. Weather likely played a part in the accident as sea conditions were reportedly six- to eight-foot waves with up to 40-knot gusts of wind. The search for the missing crewman continues with the Coast Guard Cutter Marlin from Fort Myers, Fla.,and a C-130 airplane and two HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater. The body was recovered by Marlin. The Coast Guard’s three-day search for the missing fisherman was suspended at sunset. (March 2)

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Rescue, then BUI

Station Umpqua River, Ore.

The Coast Guard towed a disabled boat on the Umpqua River, Ore., and assisted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in arresting a man for boating under the influence of alcohol. While on patrol, a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Umpqua River came across a boat appearing to be disabled and adrift. The motor lifeboat had a fishing boat in tow and requested a 25-foot response boat be launched to further investigate. The response boat arrived to see the man’s boat hard aground. Local emergency medical technicians were unable to access the stranded boater and requested that the Coast Guard tow the boat back to the boat ramp with the man on board. Upon reaching the ramp the sheriff’s department arrested the man for boating under the influence. The 44-year-old man had been rescued by the Coast Guard two days before after his mother reported him overdue from a trip up the Umpqua River. He was taken to Lower Umpqua Hospital to be treated for hypothermia.(March 25)

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Crew conducts first rescue

Station Valdez, Alaska

A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Valdez conducted the unit’s first rescue since the Coast Guard commissioned the station on Dec. 15, 2004. Rescuers aboard a Station Valdez 27-foot boat responded to two boaters aboard their 24-foot pleasure boat. Station Valdez personnel observed the boat emitting smoke and believed the boat was on fire. The crew responded and found that the boat’s engine had overheated and created the white smoke. The Station Valdez crew towed the disabled boat to the Valdez small boat harbor where its boaters moored the vessel. Neither of the boaters suffered any injuries in the incident. (March 7)

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58 lives saved

Rescue Coordination Center

Miami, Fla.

The Coast Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center Miami oversaw two successful rescues at sea in a 24-hour period and was engaged in a third. The efforts resulted in 58 lives being saved. The first case began when a 135-foot school sailboat came across a Haitian sailboat with a broken mast and 49 people aboard, 45 miles north of Port Antonio, Jamaica. The sailboat already had 10 crewmen and 23 students aboard at the time, but was able to safely embark the 35 adults and 14 children in distress, some of whom were infants, and transport them to Jamaican law enforcement officials in Port Antonio. The second case began 27 miles north of Haiti when a Coast Guard cutter came across a 65-foot Haitian houseboat that was sinking with six people on board. The cutter immediately sent over a boarding team to assess the severity of the situation and to begin dewatering the houseboat. The boarding team discovered approximately one foot of water above the deck plates in the engine room. A failed shaft seal was the cause of the distress. The Coast Guard team remained aboard the boat for more than five hours, pumping out gallons of seawater. Once the water was removed from the engine room, the boarding team returned to the cutter, whose crew escorted the houseboat within four miles of Port-au-Paix, Haiti, to ensure the mariners arrived safely. The third case began when one of three crewmembers aboard a trawler reported to the Coast Guard that they had lost steering capabilities due to hydraulic problems, in the northeastern Yucatan Straits. The Coast Guard initially diverted a cruise ship, which was more than six hours away. The Coast Guard released the cruise ship when search and rescue controllers from the coordination center contacted another boat that was only 22 miles from the disabled trawler. At the same time, controllers diverted a cutter which at the time was approximately 11 hours away. The second merchant boat was on scene awaiting the cutter’s arrival at which time the good Samaritan would be released. (March 10)

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Boat collision

Station Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Coast Guard Sector Miami marine investigators were en route to Fort Lauderdale to investigate the cause of a boating accident in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge. The Coast Guard received a report that a casino boat may have collided with two privately owned boats. The casino boat also reportedly collided with the Sunrise Blvd. Bridge. A response boat from Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale was immediately dispatched to the scene. After arriving on scene, Coast Guard crewmembers confirmed there was no sign of pollution at the time and that no injuries had been reported. At the time of the accident, the 160-foot private boat reportedly had 14 people on board, the other 152-foot boat had five people on board and the 95-foot casino boat had 26 people aboard — 15 passengers and 11 crewmembers. The 160-footer had a gash on the left side and the 152-footer had fiberglass damage. The casino boat was being towed to a marina. The cause of the incident was under investigation. (March 10)

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Overturned skiff

Air Station New Orleans, La.

Coast Guard crews began searching in Irish Bayou, La., for people in the water after an overturned 18-foot skiff was discovered near Highway 11. It was unknown if there were people aboard the boat when it capsized. An HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans and a 25-foot small boat crew from Coast Guard Station New Orleans began searching the area. About an hour later they spotted the man and directed a good Samaritan to his location, a relatively short distance from the capsized skiff. The good Samaritan picked up the man and took him to shore. An officer from the New Orleans Police Department questioned the boater and found that there were no other passengers on the boat when it capsized. (Feb. 27)

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Rescued after sinking

Air Station Savannah, Ga.

Rescue crews from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah rescued four people from a marshy area after their boat sank near Port Royal Sound, S.C. One of the rescued people was operating his 15-foot boat when he hit a submerged object in the dark. He and the three passengers were able to put on their lifejackets and grab a few crucial items before their boat sank into the cold winter water. While floating in the dark, the boat’s owner used his mobile phone to call the Coast Guard and was able to provide precise coordinates of their position to the rescue crew using a handheld GPS. A rescue helicopter was dispatched from Air Station Savannah to locate and rescue the four people. While waiting for the helicopter to arrive, the boater and his three companions were able to swim to a nearby marshy area and climb out of the water. They then spotted the arriving helicopter and used a flashlight to alert the helicopter to their exact location. The four were hoisted up to the hovering helicopter and delivered to awaiting EMS personnel at the Hilton Head airport where they were treated for mild hypothermia. (Feb. 27)

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Multiple rescues, searches

Gulf Coast, La., Ala. and Fla.

Coast Guard units along the Gulf Coast participated in several search and rescue cases during a 24-hour period, resulting in the rescue of four boaters as searches continued for two others. In the first case, the Coast Guard was notified that a man had reportedly fallen off a motor vessel about 65 miles southeast of New Orleans. A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans rescue helicopter crew launched, flying through offshore thunderstorms, and arrived on scene to find the man had been located and recovered by the crew of the motor vessel. The helicopter crew hoisted the man aboard the aircraft and transported him to West Jefferson Hospital. He was reportedly suffering from severe hypothermia after spending more than an hour in the 60-degree water.

In the next case, the Coast Guard was notified that a 40-year-old male fell off a crew boat about 15.5 miles south-southwest of Chandeleur Islands, La. Although the man was reportedly wearing a PFD, it had slipped off and he disappeared beneath the water. The Coast Guard launched a Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Air Station New Orleans and a 41-foot rescue boat crew from Station Venice, La. Once on scene, the air crews dropped a data-marker buoy to measure the rate and direction of the current to determine a search area. The data from the DMB showed a current of almost two mph. The aircrew measured 30-40 mph winds and nearby weather buoys measured the water temperature at 60 degrees. A rescue boat crew from Station Venice, a rescue helicopter crew from Air Station New Orleans and a Falcon rescue jet crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala., were continuing to search. The rescue jet crew located what they believed to be the man’s parka and PFD10 miles from where he was last seen. An 87-foot patrol boat was en route to assist the search.

In another case, Coast Guard Station Panama City, Fla., was contacted by the crew of a 55-foot pleasure boat, reporting that they were disoriented. The station dispatched a boat crew by truck and trailer to Carrabelle, Fla., where they launched to escort the boaters to shore from their position about 7.5 miles south of Dog Island, two miles off the coast of Florida. As the rescue boat crew was transiting to the area, the crew received an additional report that one of the boaters, who had a broken hand, was showing signs of diabetic shock while the master of the boat had suffered several cuts and bruises from his boat being tossed about in the rough weather. The rescue crew arrived on scene, boarded the vessel and determined that the best course of action was to remove the boaters and have the boat recovered by commercial salvage. While aboard, a high-water alarm sounded and the two Coast Guard crewmembers and three boaters entered the water as the boat promptly sank. Everyone in the water was recovered safely by the rescue boat crew and transported back to shore. The injured boaters were transported to Franklin County Hospital in Florida. The boat, now partially submerged, has been marked, and a notice to mariners is being broadcast by the Coast Guard proclaiming it a hazard to navigation. Finally, the Coast Guard and St. Mary’s Parish, La., Sheriff’s Office were continuing to search for a missing boater in the Wax Lake Outlet near its intersection with the Intracoastal Waterway. An overturned skiff found in the area was traced to the owner, a 47-year-old man, who remained missing. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans launched a rescue helicopter crew to search. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement was also investigating the incident. (March 8)

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12-year-old rescued

Station Tillamook Bay, Ore.

The Coast Guard rescued a 12-year-old boy in Tillamook Bay, Ore., after he was pulled out to sea by strong currents. Station Tillamook Bay received a report of a boy floating on a piece of styrofoam about 200 yards from the beach. A 23-foot utility boat from the station located the boy, who had been floating in the 49-degree water for almost an hour. The boy was taken aboard the utility boat and transported to a local marina where awaiting emergency medical technicians treated and released the boy to his mother. (March 13)

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Pleasure boat sinks

Station Bellingham, Wash.

The Coast Guard rescued two people after their 33-foot pleasure boat began taking on water and sank near Bellingham, Wash. The master contacted Coast Guard Station Bellingham by cell phone after the boat began to take on water quickly from an unknown source. The station launched a 25-foot response boat to assist the crew of the sinking boat. Both people were taken aboard the response boat and were transported to Station Bellingham. There were no injuries. Their boat sank as Coast Guard crewmembers attempted to dewater the vessel. The boat drifted into the breakwater where a salvage crew has anchored it in place until it can be safely moved. The boat is not a hazard to navigation. (March 16)