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Mishaps & rescues – Florida

UNITAS Gold Exercise

A sailor watches as U.S. Coast guard cutter Thetis pulls alongside the German navy combat support ship Frankfurt am Main. Maritime forces from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Mexico, Peru, U.S. and Uruguay are participating in UNITAS Gold, the 50th iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise, which took place April 20 to May 5 off the Florida coast.

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Disabled and drifting off Vero Beach

Air Station Miami

The Coast Guard assisted five boaters when their boats became disabled about 37 miles east of Vero Beach, Fla., and 26 miles east of Hillsboro Inlet, Fla.

The Coast Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center in Miami received an E-Solution EPRIB alert for a 28-foot pleasure boat 37 miles off Vero Beach. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Miami was dispatched and confirmed the boat was disabled and drifting, but in no immediate danger. Commercial salvage was notified, but was unable to respond and assist because of the distance offshore. Coast Guard cutter Shrike was launched and brought the three boaters aboard and placed their boat in tow. In another case, family members reported two boaters making a trip from Hillsboro Inlet to Bimini, Bahamas, aboard a 21-foot pleasure boat were overdue. The Coast Guard diverted an HU-25 Falcon fixed-wing aircraft crew from Coast Guard Air Station Miami and cutter Key Biscayne to search. Because of the size of the search area, a C-130 Hercules was dispatched from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater to assist. The C-130 crew located the 21-foot boat seven hours after the family reported the two boaters missing. The cutter took the boat in tow and safely returned all to shore. (April 12)

Missing for five days

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

The Coast Guard located two boaters about seven miles north of Orange Cay, Bahamas, who had been missing for five days. The crew of a C-130 Hercules fixed-wing aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater spotted the two men on their disabled white 33-foot center console. Search-and-rescue coordinators at the 7th Coast Guard District in Miami immediately launched the crew of cutter Diamondback to render assistance to the men. The C-130 crew dropped a VHF radio to establish communications and the men said they were OK, but were thirsty and hungry. The aircrew then dropped food and water to the men. A family member called the Coast Guard two days earlier to report the men left on a Saturday and were scheduled to return Sunday, but did not. Also assisting with the search were two HU-25 Falcon jet crews from Coast Guard Air Station Miami and three Coast Guard cutters. (April 19)

Good Samaritan rescues six

Air Station Clearwater, Fla.

The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from a 26-foot pleasure boat sinking 90 miles east of Jacksonville with six people aboard. The boaters contacted the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 and their 406 MHz EPIRB. They notified the Coast Guard they were taking on water and sinking. A good Samaritan in the area responded and removed all the people from the water and brought them back to shore. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., a Coast Guard jet with a dewatering pump from Air Station Miami, and a Navy P-3 fixed-wing aircraft responded to the distress call. All people aboard were reportedly wearing life jackets at the time of the distress call. (April 23)

Coast Guard tows four to safety

Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

The Coast Guard rescued four people from a sinking boat seven miles off Wrightsville Beach. Coast Guard Sector North Carolina watchstanders received a call from the boat and deployed two rescue boat crews from Station Wrightsville Beach to help them. The 47- and 25-foot rescue boats arrived and crews transferred all four people to safety. The 47-foot rescue boat towed the 20-foot pleasure boat to Wrightsville Beach Wildlife Boat Ramp. (April 4)

This article originally appeared in the Florida and the South Home Waters Section of the July 2009 issue.