PACIFIC OCEAN — Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast and the Mexican navy conducted a joint operation to save three stranded fishermen from their sinking vessel, the Wendy II, 40 miles off the coast of Huatulco, Mexico Tuesday.
While on a routine patrol, Steadfast spotted a 15-foot panga-style vessel with three people onboard waving their arms in distress. After approaching the vessel, Steadfast’s crew noticed the vessel had filled with water and nearly sunk. Steadfast lowered the cutter’s smallboat to retrieve the stranded fishermen, and quickly pulled them to safety. All crewmembers from the sinking vessel were accounted for and found in good health. Upon safely returning to Steadfast, the rescued fishermen were provided with food, water, and dry clothing.
While onboard Steadfast, the three fishermen, aged 23, 21 and 16, stated they departed Puerto Angel, Mexico the day before to fish for shark. The crewmembers said their vessel capsized at 3 a.m., after they pulled a shark onboard, which sent all three fishermen into the water. They were able to right their vessel using the buoyancy from fuel containers onboard, but the vessel remained completely filled with water; spending 15 hours bailing out water until they were rescued by the Steadfast crew.
The 11th Coast Guard District Command Center coordinated with the Mexican navy’s command center in order to safely return the crewmembers to their homeport. The Mexican navy dispatched a search-and-rescue crew aboard a 33-foot Defender Class small-boat from Naval Sector Huatulco to retrieve the rescued crewmembers and safely transport them back to Huatulco.
Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast (WMEC-623) is a 210-foot Medium-Endurance Cutter homeported out of Astoria, Ore. Nicknamed El Tiburon Blanco, or “The White Shark”, Steadfast’s primary missions include law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection, and fisheries enforcement.