PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force are responding Wednesday to two injured fisherman aboard a cargo vessel approximately 500 miles southeast of Bermuda.
Coast Guard watchstanders at the 5th District Command Center in Portsmouth helped coordinate the launch of an Air Force HC-130J Combat King II aircrew from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, at about 7:45 a.m. to provide medical care for Taiwanese nationals aboard the Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel K. Coral. The injured men experienced burns after their fishing vessel caught fire Tuesday.
The Air Force rescue crew arrived at the K. Coral’s position at about 2 p.m. and deployed seven pararescuemen from the 347th Rescue Group. All seven pararescuemen made it aboard K. Coral to offer first-response medical care for the burned fishermen.
“The Coast Guard is extremely thankful that the Air Force was able to support this mission with pararescuemen,” said Cdr. Stephen Matadobra, the Coast Guard Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for the case. “Our priority is to protect life at sea, and the Coast Guard will always do everything possible to provide assistance for a mariner in need. In the event we can’t get there ourselves, we do our best to identify someone who can.”
The Coast Guard received initial notification Tuesday at about 2:50 a.m. from the Bermuda Rescue Coordination Center that the fishing vessel, Wenshun 112, caught fire about 900 miles southeast of Bermuda.
By the time the Coast Guard was notified, the K. Coral had seen smoke on the horizon and had responded to the scene.
The K. Coral initially rescued 17 fishermen from the burning Wenshun 112. It spent the next six hours searching for the remaining two missing crewmen before locating them clinging to wreckage at about 6 a.m. Tuesday.
A Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended that the two burned sailors receive immediate medical care beyond what the crew of the K. Coral could provide. The Coast Guard then worked with the Air Force to determine the best medical options for the burned survivors.
The 19 survivors from Wenshun 112 are scheduled to arrive in Bermuda by Friday, where the injured will be further evaluated by medical professionals.
The cargo ships Cherry Point and Jean LD also responded to help search for the two missing fishermen after the Coast Guard sent out a radio broadcast requesting all vessels in the area assist.