Coast Guard response report

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Adrift and lost

Station Cape Charles, Va.

A Coast Guard crew towed a disabled 15-foot pleasure boat, five miles off Cape Charles, Va., to safe haven. The woman operating the boat reported to search and rescue controllers at Sector Hampton Roads via mobile phone that her boat was out of gas. She did not know her location, and controllers had to narrow down her position by working with a mobile phone company using two phone towers. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles was launched when a likely search area was determined. After the woman was located, the rescue crew towed the boat, transferring the tow to a crew from Station Milford Haven. The woman was brought safely to Gwynn’s Island. Communications with the woman were hampered throughout the case due to bad cell phone signals. The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters use working marine radios when communicating distress calls to the Coast Guard. Cell phone communications can be unreliable on the water due to the distance from land based towers. (Aug. 23)

Call for help disconnected

Stations Annapolis and Oxford, Md.

Coast Guard and Maryland State Police crews located and towed a disabled 25-foot pleasure boat approximately 15 miles south of Herring Bay, Md., to safe haven. The boat, with two men aboard, was disabled due to engine failure. One of the men contacted his fiancee concerning the engine failures via mobile phone, and said he thought they were in the Herring Bay region. All communications were quickly lost, however. The fiancee then called search and rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore and gave them the boat’s last known location. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Annapolis was launched to search for the missing boat, but after nearly three hours of searching, no vessel was found. A second rescue boat from Station Annapolis was launched to relieve the first boat, but still no boat was found. With cooperation from the Maryland state police, a helicopter assisted in the search, spotting the vessel approximately 15 miles south of the initial search area. Coast Guard Station Oxford launched a rescue boat and located the boat. The crew then towed the pleasure boat safely to shore. There were no injuries. Communications were hampered throughout the case due to bad cellular phone signals. (Aug. 23)

Sportfisherman hit by lightning

Atlantic Beach, N.C.

A 90-foot sportfisherman was making its way back to shore through Hurricane Ophelia 175 nautical miles east of Wrightsville Beach, N.C. The two men aboard reported that their boat had been struck by lightning, which put a crack in the hull from the flying bridge to the pilothouse, but they were not taking on water. The vessel was initially reported 216 nautical miles east of Wrightsville Beach in 35-foot seas and wind gusts up to 100 miles an hour from Hurricane Ophelia. The boat was under power and making its way toward Masonboro Inlet, N.C. The Coast Guard monitored their situation and planned to dispatch assets when weather and distance permitted. (Sept. 11)

Man, cat on burning boat

Station Little Creek, Va.

A Norfolk man was rescued by a good Samaritan and assisted by the Coast Guard approximately 800 yards off Willoughby Beach, Norfolk, when his 42-foot cabin cruiser caught fire. The man notified the Coast Guard that his boat had an electrical fire that quickly spread to the superstructure. A rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Little Creek, Va., quickly responded to the fire and transferred the man and his cat from a barge who initially rescued him from the burning vessel. Fire departments from Norfolk and Portsmouth also responded and contained the fire. The boat then drifted toward the beach and went aground at Oceanview and 5th View street. The man and his cat were brought back to Little Creek and suffered no apparent injuries. (Aug. 29)

Search for missing boater

Portsmouth, Va.

The body of a man whose boat was found drifting three miles north of Little Creek has been recovered. A good Samaritan found the body of a 41-year-old man floating near the eastern side of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. The good Samaritan radioed the Coast Guard and remained on scene until a small boat from the Norfolk Police department arrived to recover the body. The man was last seen the previous evening when he left for a fishing trip. A good Samaritan called the Coast Guard the next morning after finding the man’s skiff drifting with the keys in the ignition and the running lights on. (Aug. 21)

Hole in the hull

Station Charleston, S.C.

Three men were rescued by the Coast Guard after their boat capsized in Bulls Bay near Bird Island, S.C. A rescue crew from Station Charleston rescued the three after a hole apparently developed in the hull of their 18-foot boat and the boat capsized. The rescue crew found two of the men as soon as they arrived at the scene. They searched Bulls Bay for one hour and 45 minutes for the other man. He was found in good condition but was transferred to waiting EMS for evaluation. Both of the other two men were in good condition. All three men were wearing their lifejackets when the boat capsized. (Sept. 10)

Search for surfer

Sector Charleston, S.C.

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for an 18-year-old man who was reported missing about 200 yards offshore at Folly Beach, S.C. Eyewitnesses said that the young man went under water while surfing and never resurfaced. The Coast Guard received a request for assistance in the search from Folly Beach Public Safety. Coast Guard rescue coordinators in Charleston diverted a Coast Guard rescue helicopter from Air Station Savannah, Ga., that was in the area to assist in the search. They also launched a rescue boat from Station Charleston to assist. Folly Beach Public Safety also had several surface assets searching, including small boats and jet skis. Coast Guard units searched until sundown and resumed their search the next day. Rescue coordinators also launched Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin to assist. The Charleston County Sheriff’s office also assisted in the search. Rescuers used a data-marking buoy, which was dropped in the water near where the young man was reported to have gone under to help track drift and currents off Folly Beach. Rescue coordinators also used computer-assisted search planning , which is a computer program that took information such as sea, air, weather and water conditions near where the man went under and calculated his possible drift. (Sept. 12)

Football legend rescued

Air Station Kodiak, Alaska

A Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk crew from Air Station Kodiak rescued NFL Hall of Fame star Larry Csonka and five others from a 28-foot charter boat near Nikolski on Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands. The captain of the 28-foot charter boat with six people on board was returning to Nikolski when his boat was beset by 25-30-knot winds and eight-foot seas. A good Samaritan and friend of the captain reported the situation. He continued to relay important information for the captain of the stricken boat, which was able to monitor but not respond to VHF communications. The passengers donned survival suits. An H-60 helicopter rescue crew from Air Station Kodiak responded, hoisting the six persons to safety and returning them to shore. Coast Guard cutter Storis was expected to tow the charter boat to safe harbor. Csonka, a former member of the Miami Dolphins football team and host of the television show “North to Alaska,” has a son who is a Chief Warrant Officer serving in the Coast Guard. (Sept. 9)