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VIDEO: 1,200 miles out and sinking

Three Frenchmen in their 70s were rescued Thursday afternoon about 1,200 miles off Cape Cod, Mass., after their boat began to take on water.

The Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of the men, who were plucked from a life raft after they abandoned their 42-foot sailboat.

Watchstanders from the 1st District command center in Boston were notified about 6 a.m. Thursday of a signal from an EPIRB registered to the French-flagged boat. An Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew that was deployed to St. John’s, Nova Scotia, began to search for the boat.

The watchstanders also got in touch with vessels in the area. Crews from the 500-foot Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine, the powerboat Mol Maxim and the Spanish-flagged fishing boat Robero diverted to assist.

The Hercules crew arrived at the scene of the emergency about 11 a.m. and dropped marking flares, a life raft and a radio to the crew, who abandoned their boat and got into the raft. Seas were running 10 to 12 feet, with 33-knot winds.

The Robero arrived about 2 p.m. and rescued the sailors, who were reported to be wearing life jackets. The Robero planned to take them to the Spanish-flagged hospital ship Esperanza for evaluation and arrangements for travel.

“This rescue demonstrates the strong bond between mariners on the open ocean,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Alayola, a search-and-rescue coordinator at the 1st Coast Guard District command center, said in a statement. “The Robero’s crew proved that mariners from any nation can unite to help save lives in a distress situation.”