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Coast Guard Responses

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)

Hoisted to safety

Air Station Savannah, Ga.

Rescue crews from Air Station Savannah hoisted four people to safety from a 120-foot cruise boat during severe weather conditions 36 miles east of Port Royal Sound. The four departed Fernandina Beach, Fla., en route to New Jersey when the dinner cruise boat took waves off the bow shattering several large glass windows. Water began flooding in the lower decks. Prior to the helicopter crew arriving on scene, the captain reported that the flooding in the lower deck was uncontrollable and requested the four people be taken off the boat. After being rescued and brought to Air Station Savannah, the four did not require any medical attention and were released. The boat was well equipped with safety gear like a working VHF radio and an Emergency Positioning Indicator Radio Beacon. Since the boat had the proper safety gear required, rescue crews had no difficulties communicating or locating it in adverse weather. Weather conditions at the time were 36 knots of wind and 8- to 10-foot waves with 12-foot swells. The boat was still afloat and plans have been made for commercial salvage to tow the vessel to shore. (May 25)

Disabled and adrift

Air Station Savannah, Ga.

A rescue crew from Air Station Savannah helped rescue a man on his disabled boat 10 miles east of Doughboy Sound after it had been adrift for several hours. A friend reported the man missing to Coast Guard Group Mayport after he had not returned from a scheduled fishing trip that day. An exact position or location of the vessel was unknown, leaving rescuers with a large area to search shortly before darkness set in. Around 8:40 p.m., the rescue helicopter crew spotted a handheld red flare, ignited by the owner of the vessel. The crew vectored in to the sight of the flare and located the boat and crew. The helicopter remained overhead and directed a 25-foot Coast Guard boat to the site. The owner of the boat did not require medical attention. The boat’s proper distress signaling devices greatly improved the visibility of the craft in a low light condition. (May 28)

Boy missing after collision

Station Grand Isle, La.

Coast Guard crews were searching the waters of Bayou Cutler, south of Lafitte, for a 12-year-old boy missing after a boat collision. Coast Guard crews aboard an Air Station New Orleans rescue helicopter and a Station Grand Isle, La., rescue boat were searching for the boy, along with rescue crews from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The boy was one of five boaters who entered the water after a collision between their small cabin cruiser and an empty barge being pushed by a tugboat. The other four boaters were rescued. Three adults and two children comprised the crew of the cabin cruiser. It is reported that all three adults who were aboard did not sustain any injuries, but the other child, 14, required medical care and was transported to WestJeffersonHospital. The nature and extent of the child’s injuries were not known. The tugboat wasn’t damaged in the incident, nor were there any injuries reported to its crew. There have not been any reports of pollution from either boat. The incident was under investigation by Coast Guard Marine Safety Office New Orleans. (May 28)

Rescued in heavy seas

AviationTrainingCenterMobile, Ala.

Five mariners trapped aboard their disabled fishing boat in 12-foot seas were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew 21 miles south of Cape San Blas. The five crewmembers from the 37-foot trawler were safely delivered to the Panama City, Fla., airport by the HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile, Ala. The U.S. Coast Guard’s command center in Mobile received the distress call, reporting that the boat was taking on water, and was disabled and adrift in heavy seas caused by Tropical Storm Arlene. Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk was also dispatched to assist in the rescue. According to initial reports, the five crewmembers were ordered to abandon ship into the heavy seas and with the assistance of the helicopter’s deployed rescue swimmer, they were hoisted one by one into the aircraft. (June 10)