VIDEO: 'They saved their own lives'

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When a 42-foot commercial fishing boat began rapidly taking on water after colliding with a larger boat off the New Jersey coast, the three-man crew’s safety training proved to be the difference between life and death.

“The crew of the fishing vessel Last Stand was extremely prepared and knowledgeable on their safety equipment and procedures,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class James Pappas of Coast Guard Station Cape May, officer of the day during the April 28 incident.

“Their readiness allowed them to abandon ship within 10 minutes of the collision, including scrambling into their survival suits and ultimately into their life raft. They saved their own lives.”

A request for assistance came from the captain of the Last Stand, who said the boat was sinking after a collision with the 78-foot Tug Dean Reinauer, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guardsmen who responded got the men out of the life raft and into a rescue boat. The fishing boat sank.

Last Stand left South Jersey Marina in Cape May, and the marina’s staff followed news of the rescue over VHF radio. The collision left marina employee Amy Murphy puzzled.

“It was my impression [the Last Stand was] coming back in,” she told the Press of Atlantic City. “The best scenario is everyone is alive. That’s what everyone is happy about.”