Coast Guard and U.S. Virgin Islands rescue crews combine efforts to rescue missing diver

Coast Guard District 7 NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews combined efforts with a St. John Rescue marine unit to save a missing diver Sunday in waters approximately 1.5 nautical miles southeast of Dog Island, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The rescued diver is a 60-year-old man, U.S. Citizen and U.S. Virgin Islands resident, who had gone on solo dive during a diving trip with two friends aboard the recreational vessel Swordmaster III.

“This rescue was possible thanks to successful coordination between the Coast Guard and multiple local agencies such as St. John Rescue and St. John Park Services,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Harper, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Operation Unit Controller.  “They remained vigilant throughout the search and offered their services and responded rapidly upon the Coast Guard helicopter spotting the diver.”

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a telephone call at 11:06 a.m. Sunday from the master of the Swordmaster III, who reported having lost sight of the missing diver after he successfully resurfaced and was in the process of recovering him.

Coast Guard Watchstanders proceeded to launch a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to search for the diver, while a rescue crew aboard a Coast Guard 25-foot response boat also responded alongside St. John Search and Rescue and Park Services marine units.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew located the diver alive at approximately 1.30 p.m. Sunday floating with the assistance of his diving buoyancy compensator and a yellow inflatable signaling device.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew vectored the St. John Rescue marine unit and the crew of the Coast Guard 25-foot response boat to the location of the diver. The crew of the St. John rescue marine unit recovered the diver alive from the water and transported him to Cruz Bay, St. Thomas, where he was released to his friends from the Swordmaster III.

SAFETY TIPS TO REMEMBER DURING A DIVE:

  • Never dive by yourself.
  • Ensure you have a dive plan and a diving “buddy.”
  • File a float plan with a family member or friend. If you decide to deviate from your original intended plan, notify your emergency contact immediately.
  • Check your dive equipment carefully and ensure that equipment functions correctly.
  • Mark the area in which you are diving with a dive flag and a light when divers are in the water.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, hypothermia and dehydration, as well as procedures for emergency treatment.
  • Check local weather conditions before diving.
  • Taking basic safety precautions while diving will increase your chance of surviving a potential diving accident.
  • Boat operators should be alert and aware of dive flags.
  • If you have not been SCUBA diving in the past year, please ensure you are physically capable of handling ocean conditions before diving.
  • Divers should have proper diving signaling equipment in case of a distress.

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