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Mishaps & Rescues Mid-Atlantic - March 2010

Recent responses from Portsmouth, Va.

Portsmouth-based cutter helps in Haiti

Portsmouth, Va.

The first U.S. asset to arrive on the scene in Haiti after the January earthquake remained engaged in Haitian relief operations weeks later.

A U.S. Coast Guard boat patrols the waters of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As part of Operation Unified Response, a U.S. Navy and Army dive task force is assessing the damage done to Haitian port facilities.

The Portsmouth-based Coast Guard cutter Forward arrived Jan. 13 off Port au Prince. The crew provided air traffic control for military aircraft because of the damaged and inoperable control tower at Toussaint Louverture International Airport. They also began assessing the port and ferrying supplies and injured people with their small boat and helicopter.

One of their primary missions was to pave the way for supplies to be delivered into the port of Cap Haitien. They began assessing the port and noted significant damage and destruction of its infrastructure adding to the difficulty of bringing aid to the country. The Detroit-based MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew that deployed with the Forward flew over some of the roadways leaving the port and verified that relief efforts delivered to Cap Haitien can be trucked to Port au Prince. They also observed multiple oil, fuel and sewage spills in the area.

They were then able to perform medical evacuations with a helicopter from the Killick Haitian Coast Guard base to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Milot.

"The flight mechanic talked about two children on the first flight who wanted to hold his hand for comfort," says Cdr. Diane Durham, the commanding officer of the Forward.

To date, the Coast Guard had medically transported 29 critically injured U.S. Embassy personnel out of Haiti, evacuated approximately 662 American citizens and delivered 512 urban search-and-rescue team members to Port au Prince.

Fouled prop leaves five stranded off Cape May

Cape May, N.J.

The Coast Guard and a commercial salvage boat assisted five people when their fishing boat became disabled 78 nautical miles east of Cape May.

The Coast Guard received a call at 10:27 p.m. from a crewmember aboard the 84-foot fishing boat Travis and Natalie, home-ported in Point Judith, R.I., reporting that their propeller caught a chain and they were disabled, but not in distress.

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Ibis, home-ported in Cape May, was launched due to approaching bad weather, arrived on the scene and took the fishing boat and its crew in tow after they were unable to unravel the chain.

Weather conditions were approximately 15 to 20 knot winds and 4- to 7-foot seas.

No injuries were reported.

This article originally appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Home Waters Section of the March 2010 issue.