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Mishaps & Rescues – New England

Recent Coast Guard responses from around the nation

SEA SIREN — Crewmembers aboard the 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Juniper prepare to tow the disabled fishing boat Sea Siren toward Buzzards Bay, Mass. A commercial tug was expected to meet the cutter to complete the tow into New Bedford, Mass. The Sea Siren became disabled about 70 miles east of Chatham, Mass., March 11.

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Fishermen rescued from life raft

Sector Northern New England, Maine

The Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol rescued two fishermen after their boat began taking on water and sinking about seven miles east of Biddeford Pool. The two men were aboard the 44-foot fishing boat when they believed it struck a submerged object. The boat began taking on water, and the on-board pumps were not keeping up. They radioed for help and then climbed into the boat’s life raft to wait for assistance. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England in South Portland issued an urgent marine information broadcast. Hearing the broadcast, a Maine Marine Patrol boat located and recovered the two uninjured men from the life raft and brought them to the sector. The fishing boat was partially submerged. The boat had about 100 gallons of fuel on board. Coast Guard Cutter Flyingfish, which also responded to the distress call, remained with the fishing boat and reported no signs of pollution. Sector Northern New England was broadcasting safety messages to warn mariners in the area that the boat was protruding from the water and posed a danger to passing boats. (Jan. 26)

Hundreds stranded on ice floe

Oak Harbor, Ohio

The Coast Guard and multiple state and local agencies rescued several hundred people stranded on an ice floe in western Lake Erie near Oak Harbor, Ohio. Between 300 to 500 people were reported on the ice floe. Responding agencies included: Coast Guard Air Stations Detroit, Traverse City, Mich., and Elizabeth City, N.C.; Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, Coast Guard stations Toledo, Ohio, Belle Isle, Mich., St. Clair Shores, Mich., and Marblehead, Ohio; Canadian Coast Guard; Ohio State Patrol, Monroe County Sheriff; Jervis, Carol and Washington Townships; and Toledo Lifeflight. The Coast Guard reported that, though they were not sure why the people were on the ice, their primary goal was to safely remove all the people. (Feb. 7)

Coast Guard rescues two near Cape Fear

Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

The Coast Guard rescued two people aboard a disabled sailboat 37 miles southeast of Cape Fear. The Coast Guard received a mayday call from a crewmember and received an EPIRB signal. Coast Guard rescue helicopter crews from Air Station Elizabeth City and Air Facility Charleston, S.C., arrived and established communication with the crewmembers of the sailboat, who reported they had lost power and had torn sails. A boat crew from Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach arrived and towed the sailboat up the Cape Fear River then transferred the tow to a boat crew from Coast Guard Station Oak Island, who towed them to a local marina.

The triangulated position of the mayday call provided a search area that was about 40 miles different than the actual position, according to a watchstander at the 5th Coast Guard District command center, but the EPIRB provided more accurate information. Since the sailboat’s EPIRB had been properly registered and was up to date, rescuers were quickly able to determine specific information about the sailboat. A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter was launched from Air Facility Charleston to the GPS position. New direction-finding equipment recently installed on the helicopter allowed the crew to pick up the GPS and hone in on the signal. The Coast Guard reported they picked up the EPIRB signal at 25 miles, and at 11 miles were able to lock on the position. (Jan. 25)

Fight aboard fishing vessel

Station Channel Islands Harbor, Calif.

Coast Guard members from Station Channel Islands Harbor and Ventura, Calif., County sheriff deputies responded to a fight that occurred aboard a commercial fishing boat early in the morning off the coast of Ventura. Coast Guard boarding team members and sheriff deputies took those involved in the fight into custody. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the fishing boat had several safety violations including no EPIRB, and all of the fire extinguishers and flares on board were expended. Those apprehended were put in custody and the incident was under investigation. (Jan. 28)

This article originally appeared in the New England Home Waters Section of the May 2009 issue.