Coast Guard Responses Florida & the South April 2007 - Soundings Online

Coast Guard Responses Florida & the South April 2007

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Recent responses from Massachusetts to Florida

Recent responses from Massachusetts to Florida

Missing off island

Sector St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Coast Guard ended the search for a missing man about one mile west of Marco Island, Fla., when a Collier County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team discovered the body of the 20-year-old boater. Coast Guard rescue crews, along with state and local agencies, had been searching for the young man for more than two days, after authorities received a report that a 30-foot go-fast boat flipped end over end and crashed into the water nose first. The cigarette boat was said to have been jumping waves at a very high rate of speed. Three other passengers on the boat died in the accident and one was seriously injured. Weather conditions at the time of the incident were 1- to 2-foot seas, and 5- to 10-knot winds. (Jan. 8)

Illegal coral aboard

Station Miami Beach, Fla.

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Miami Beach were conducting random pleasure boat safety checks when they discovered a 23-foot pleasure boat with about 350 pounds of coral on board. The boat operator and the coral were brought back to a marina where Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials confirmed the contraband was live illegal coral. Currently, it is illegal to stand on or touch any live or dead coral. The boat operator was taken into FWC custody and the investigation was ongoing. Protection of natural marine resources is one of the Coast Guard’s five missions and it continues to help the nation recover and maintain healthy populations of marine protected species. (Jan. 18)

Oil spill

Sector New Orleans

The Coast Guard worked with local, state and federal agencies to respond to an oil spill in Bayou Perot La. The oil spill was the result of a damaged sweet medium crude oil wellhead near Mile Marker 20 of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. Crews from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, and Marine Safety Units Morgan City, La., and Houma, La., responded to the spill. The owner of the well, ExPert Oil & Gas LLC of Covington, La., worked with Environmental Safety and Health Consulting and Training Group and Wild Well Control to locate and secure the source of the spill and to conduct cleanup operations. More than 49,000 feet of oil containment boom was deployed to prevent the oil from spreading and more than 61,000 gallons of emulsified oil and water waste were collected. HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans conducted overflights to monitor and assess the situation. The captain of the port for the Port of New Orleans closed the GICW between Mile Markers 16 and 35. The Unified Command later reopened the Intracoastal Waterway. The discharge was eventually stopped and the well was secured. The operator of the well, ExPert Oil & Gas, was offering a $35,000 reward for information directly resulting in the identification (as determined by the operator) of the person or persons responsible for damaging the wellhead. The tip hotline number is (504) 589-4203, Ext. 382. Caller identity will be protected. The Coast Guard’s investigation into the cause continued. (Jan. 25)

Teen boater lost

Air Facility Charleston, S.C.

A Coast Guard helicopter located an 18-year-old boater who was lost and disoriented on a 17-foot boat on Bull Creek, in the vicinity of Bucksport, S.C. The 18-year-old called his sister in the evening to let her know he would need a ride from Enterprise Landing. When the young man didn’t show up and couldn’t be reached on his cell phone, his sister called the Coast Guard. Coast Guard and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources units searched throughout the night. A Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Facility Charleston, a Coast Guard boat crew from Station Georgetown, S.C., and a South Carolina DNR boat all participated in the search. The young man contacted Coast Guard rescue coordinators at Sector Charleston and told rescue coordinators that he was lost in an area of dense forest and couldn’t provide any more details on his location. Coast Guard rescue coordinators launched the helicopter crew from Air Facility Charleston to use direction-finding equipment to locate the boater though the signal from his VHF radio. The Coast Guard helicopter crew located the missing boater and stayed with him until the Horry County Marine Rescue unit could come to the young man’s aid. He was taken by Horry County Marine Rescue to meet his parent at Waccawache Landing in GeorgetownCounty. (Jan. 7)

Missing boater

Air Station Atlantic City, N.J.

Coast Guard crews have ended their search for a boater who was reported missing two days earlier. The 56-year-old man was reported as missing to the Coast Guard, which immediately began transmitting urgent marine information broadcasts, alerting nearby boaters that crews were searching for the man. He was reportedly under way from Ocean City, N.J., alone aboard his 24-foot pleasure boat. An HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter crew was then dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City. Shortly thereafter, an HC-130 Hercules long-range aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., joined the search. The aircraft searched offshore until Monday evening, completing nine sorties and searching an area of 22,544 square nautical miles. Tuesday morning, units throughout the 5th Coast Guard District began conducting extended communications, which involves the physical survey of frequently used marinas and wharfs, to look for signs of the man or his boat. In addition, UMIBs continued to alert the boating public of the ongoing search. Additionally, Tuesday morning, an Air Station Atlantic City helicopter crew searched inland areas that were described as the man’s possible destinations for his fishing trip. One more search of the back bay areas south of OceanCity was conducted before nightfall, bringing aircraft mission time to a total of nearly 24 hours. (Jan. 16)

Into cold water

Station Point Judith, R.I.

Three fishermen were saved after they were forced to abandon ship into the frigid waters of Rhode Island Sound. Another fishing boat relayed a mayday call to Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. The crew reported that they heard the mayday from the stricken fishing boat stating that the engine room was nearly full of water, that there was no way to stop the flooding, and that they were roughly nine miles south of Newport, R.I. Upon receiving this report, Sector Southeastern New England immediately issued an urgent marine information broadcast in the hope that other boats in the area could quickly assist. Sector Southeastern New England also diverted four resources to the scene, including a 47-foot motor lifeboat and a 27-foot response boat from Station Point Judith, a 41-foot utility boat from Station Castle Hill, and Cutter Tigershark. All three vessels were under way at the time for training and immediately diverted to rescue the distressed fishermen. In addition to Coast Guard resources, four fishing boats in the area responded to the Coast Guard’s UMIB. The response boat from Station Point Judith and the fishing boat that received the mayday call spotted a red flare. The fishing boat was the first to arrive and recovered the three fishermen from their life raft. The three men from the stricken fishing boat had entered the water as their boat sank and did not have time to don immersion suits. Fortunately, the men had a properly installed life raft and were able to quickly get out of the 43-degree water. The men had been on the life raft for about 20 minutes before being rescued. The rescuing fishing boat brought all three men to their home port of Sakonnet Harbor, R.I. with an escort provided by Cutter Tigershark’s small boat. (Jan. 18)

Sinking boat

Station Provincetown, Mass.

The Coast Guard was searching for survivors of a reported 15-foot boat sinking near Provincetown, Mass. In an initial 911 call, a 14-year-old witness on land said he saw one person aboard the boat when it sank near Storage Beach in Truro, Mass. He said he heard three air horn blasts and heard the word “help.” Local police relayed the report to the Coast Guard who deployed a 25-foot response boat crew from Station Provincetown and an HH-60 rescue helicopter crew from Air Station Cape Cod. Both Coast Guard assets joined local authorities and began searching. They had not yet sighted any people or debris in the water. The seas were less than 1 foot and the winds were 5 to 10 knots. Water temperature was 43 degrees and the air temperature was 36 degrees. (Dec. 31)