Coast Guard, good Samaritan rescue six people from overturned catamaran

USCG 45 foot RBM file photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Coast Guard and a good Samaritan rescued six people from an overturned catamaran in the vicinity of the fairway anchorage at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Monday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a report at 7:51 p.m., via VHF channel 16 from personnel aboard the motor vessel Regal Star that they observed a life raft with six persons on board in the vicinity of the fairway anchorage at the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The motor vessel Wyatt Lee, who was nearby overheard the initial transmission, contacted Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg and volunteered to assist.

At approximately 8 p.m., a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., was diverted from a patrol along with a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew from Sector St. Petersburg.

The Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived on scene shortly after 8 p.m., and notified the watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg that the six people were sitting on top of an overturned catamaran and not a life raft.

The Wyatt Lee arrived on scene shortly thereafter and safely recovered all six people.

The Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat Medium crew received the survivors from the Wyatt Lee and transported them to Coast Guard Station St. Petersburg where their friends and family were waiting.

“Fortunately, all six persons in the water were wearing personal flotation devices and they made the correct decision to remain with the overturned catamaran, which made it easier for them to be spotted by the crew of the crew of the Regal Star,” said Capt. Sheryl Dickinson, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “I applaud the crew of the Regal Star for maintaining a sharp lookout and the crew of the Wyatt Lee for their quick response. Their efforts saved six lives. This case demonstrates the importance of having the proper equipment at all times. Had this vessel been equipped with an Electronic Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB), Coast Guard rescue crews would have been immediately alerted to their distress situation and location. It’s very likely that they would not have had to rely on the good fortune of being discovered by watchful mariners.”

The owner of the catamaran contacted commercial salvage to recover the overturned vessel.

No injuries were reported.

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