Coast Guard Response Report

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Small-boat mystery

Station Point Judith, R.I.

The Coast Guard is no longer searching the Point Judith, R.I., area for a possible missing boater. Local authorities found the man safe at home. When the “missing” man realized his boat was missing, he assumed it was stolen and did not report its theft to local authorities. A fishing boat called Station Point Judith to report an abandoned 16-foot yellow canoe five miles southeast of Point Judith. The canoe was found with the running lights on and a pair of sunglasses, a cap and a fishing pole on board. Debris was also found not far from where the boat was sighted including a yellow bucket, and a blue cap with the words “Roll 90” on the front and the words “have fun” on the back of the cap. Coast Guard Station Point Judith conducted searches in the Point Judith area with two boats along with an HH60 helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod for around six hours as well as sending out urgent marine information broadcasts in the area. It was then that local authorities found the man at home. (June 23)

1 crew, 2 rescues

Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.

A Coast Guard aircrew from Air Station Cape Cod medevaced a 41-year-old man suffering with abdominal pain from a fishing boat 40 miles southeast of Nantucket. The crew of the boat notified Coast Guard Group Woods Hole using their VHF radio that the crewmember was suffering from severe abdominal pains and was in need of further medical assistance. The Jayhawk aircrew airlifted the man to Hyannis Airport where he was then transported by awaiting Emergency Medical Services to Cape Cod Hospital. The same aircrew assisted in the search for a person reported to be in the water near Duxbury, Mass., two hours prior to the medevac. Coast Guard Sector Boston received a call from the Plymouth harbormaster that a witness saw a 40-year-old man fall overboard from his 12-foot skiff approximately 200 yards off of Goose Point in Kingston Bay. The Coast Guard launched an HH-60J helicopter and deployed a 25-foot boat from Station Scituate to the scene to assist Plymouth and Duxbury harbormasters in the search and rescue effort. The Plymouth harbormaster reported to the Coast Guard that they had recovered the body of the man. (June 11)

Four-day drama

Group Southwest Harbor, Maine

After four days of searching, the Coast Guard found a 57-year-old man when he called Coast Guard Group Southwest Harbor stating he was fine and was four miles south of Boothbay Harbor. The missing boater contacted the Coast Guard via channel 16, the international hailing and distress frequency, after hearing on Maine Public Radio that the Coast Guard was searching for him. A Coast Guard C-130 plane, from Elizabeth City, N.C., and an HU-25 Falcon jet, from Air Station Cape Cod were conducting searches that covered more than 1,500 square miles. Those searches were called off after the man contacted the Coast Guard and the aircraft were then diverted to support other Coast Guard missions. The Coast Guard received the initial call from the man’s brother reporting him as missing. The Coast Guard was calling out to mariners in the areas between Gloucester, Mass., and Bar Harbor, Maine, as well as checking harbors and marinas in those areas asking if the man or his boat had been seen. Coast Guard Cutter Jefferson Island talked to a boat on VHF channel 16 on June 9 discussing anchorages and then switched to VHF channel 22. During the conversation on channel 22, which is not recorded by the Coast Guard, the captain of the boat called out mayday and the transmission was lost. Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators discovered later that the Jefferson Island was communicating with the missing boat. Immediately following the lost transmission, Coast Guard Cutter Jefferson Island along with a Coast Guard utility boat from Station South Portland as well as an HU-25 Falcon jet searched for three hours without finding anything in the vicinity of the approach to Portland, Maine. (June 16)

25-footer capsizes

Station Menemsha, Mass.

Coast Guard responded to a capsized 25-foot fishing charter boat with four people rescued and one deceased. The deceased, the captain of the boat, was taken to the medical examiner in Martha’s Vineyard. The survivors were taken to Coast Guard Station Menemsha. Two of the survivors were being interviewed by Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, Providence, R.I. The other two were taken to Martha’s Vineyard hospital by emergency medical services. Their condition was unknown. Coast Guard Group Woods Hole received a call that the fishing charter boat out of New Bedford was disabled and being towed by another boat when the boat capsized. The two boaters on the towing boat pulled the four survivors on board. The deceased was pulled out of the water and brought aboard a third boat where an emergency technician from the Coast Guard Cutter Tybee performed CPR unsuccessfully. A rescue swimmer deployed from an HH-60 helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod was also unable to revive the deceased. The deceased person was transferred to the medical examiner on Martha’s Vineyard. (June 19)

Disabled in gator-

infested water

Station Pascagoula, Miss.

The Coast Guard and the Mississippi Wing Civil Air Patrol rescued a man who was operating a personal watercraft that became disabled and adrift in Colesan Bayou, Miss. The father of the man called the Coast Guard to report that his 36-year-old son went out for a ride on a PWC and failed to return. A rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Pascagoula and a Mississippi Wing Civil Air Patrol rescue plane began searching. The rescue plane spotted the man on his PWC in Colesan Bayou and relayed the position to the rescue boat crew. The rescue crew, operating a 23-foot boat, drove to the position and rescued the man, who had spent nearly three hours sitting atop his powerless PWC. A Coast Guard rescuer on scene reported that there were alligators everywhere. The Civil Air Patrol is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. (June 17)

2 aboard sinking boat

Station Miami Beach, Fla.

Coast Guard units rescued two people from a sinking boat in the vicinity of Sand Key, Fla. The two men called a relative from a cell phone after their 32-foot white and blue boat began sinking 300 feet from land. One of the men had shot six flares to attract attention of other boaters in the area, but got no response. The men also had a marine radio on board, but were unfamiliar with its operation. Less than 15 minutes after a call to the Coast Guard, an Air Station Miami Dolphin helicopter was hovering over the boat in distress, calling back its location to watchstanders on shore and a Station Miami Beach rescue boat, which was also en route. Once on scene, Station Miami Beach crewmen monitored the situation until commercial salvage crews arrived to dewater the vessel. The vessel was later towed to a marina. (June 23)

2 tons of cocaine seized

Caribbean Sea

Crewmembers of Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin, home-ported in Charleston, S.C., and their embarked helicopter crew from Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville, seized almost two tons of cocaine and detained four suspected smugglers on board a 40-foot go-fast boat in the Colombian Basin. A maritime patrol aircraft flying for Joint Interagency Task Force South, based in Key West, Fla., initially located the suspect boat. The Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami, Fla., was alerted and took tactical control of cutter Gallatin, which immediately initiated an intercept. Once within range, Gallatin launched its armed MH-68 Sting Ray helicopter from HITRON to stop the vessel. A Gallatin boarding team was dispatched on its Over-the-Horizon pursuit boat to investigate the vessel and crew. After the vessel was determined to be without nationality, the boarding team took control of the go-fast and detained the four suspected smugglers, all claiming Colombian nationality. Once on board, they discovered 60 bales of suspected contraband, later tested to be cocaine. HITRON deploys year-round on cutters in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Basin and is specially trained and equipped to safely execute airborne-use-of-force tactics to stop the small and maneuverable go-fast smuggling boats. The detainees and contraband will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents for further investigation and possible prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. (May 23)