Coast Guard combines efforts with international commercial ships to rescue 4 capsized boaters in the Atlantic Ocean

Southeastern Coast Guard News
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard rescue crews combined efforts Saturday with the 800-foot Panamanian flag automobile carrier, Heijin, and the 600-foot Russian flag chemical-tank ship, Tanais Leader, to rescue four men from a life raft in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 380 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico.

Rescued are U.S. citizens Jordan Hanssen, 29, and Patrick Flemming, 31, along with Canadian citizens Adam Kreck, 31, and Marcus Pukonen, 30, after a rogue wave reportedly caused their 29-foot row boat, James Robert Hanssen, to capsize.

The rescued men, who work for the Canadian Wildlife Foundation, were on the seventy third day of an estimated 100-day voyage that originated in Dakar, Senegal and would finalize in Miami, when their journey ended abruptly and they were forced to embark the row boat’s emergency life raft.

“The great coordination and swift response between our Coast Guard rescue crews and international mariners aboard the Heijin and the Tanais Leader saved four lives from the perils of the sea,” said Capt. Drew W. Pearson, Sector San Juan Commander.  “Those saved were well prepared with proper survival and distress signaling equipment as well as having a support team onshore. All boaters should be as well prepared even for short voyages, it could save their lives.”

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received at 6:30a.m. Saturday a 406 MHZ Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon EPIRB distress signal from the James Robert Hanssen. Coast Guard watchstanders immediately coordinated the launch of a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Miami and a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater Fla. to search for the distressed vessel and possible survivors. Coast Guard watchstanders also conducted Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) callouts to identify and notify commercial vessels transiting in the vicinity of the distress.

The Heijin and Tanais Leader responded to the emergency callouts and diverted from their transit to provide assistance to the distressed boaters.

The crew of the HC-144 Ocean Sentry arrived on scene at approximately 11a.m. Saturday and located all four men safely onboard the life raft and they dropped food rations for the boaters as well as a VHF marine radio to establish communications. The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft later arrived on scene and the crew also dropped a second load of rations and a VHF marine radio, which the boaters used to confirm they were all safe. The Coast Guard C-130 aircraft crew maintained watch over the boaters and vectored in the Heijin and Tanais Leader to their position. The mariners aboard the Heijin safely recovered all four survivors from the life raft shortly before sunset Saturday and are transporting them to Puerto Rico.

AMVER, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

The Automatic Identification System (AIS), is technology sanctioned by the International Maritime Organization as a global standard for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications.identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond. Automatic Identification System (AIS), a technology sanctioned by the International Maritime Organization as a global standard for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications.

Boating Safety Tips:

• Boaters are reminded to equip their vessels with safety equipment, be mindful of state boating laws, and be courteous to fellow boaters while operating on the water.

• There should be a personal flotation device on the vessel for each person, sized accordingly.

• Boaters should have flares and are encouraged to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with 406 MHz capabilities to enable a faster response by the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.

• Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16, in the event an emergency. The Coast Guard reminds radio operators that VHF channel 16 is an emergency channel and that improper transmission on channel 16 not only hampers Coast Guard response, but is punishable under federal law.

• The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading.  It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.

• Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water.  The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2.  The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A. Current weather information and advisories can be found on the National Weather Service website.http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/west/mtrmz.htm.

• It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is also strongly discouraged.

Prior to taking to the water, boaters are encouraged to go to http://uscgboating.org/ for more complete information on safe boating.  The Coast Guard also highly recommends boaters get a free vessel-safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  More information on these inspections can be found at http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/.  A few minutes now could save a life later.

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