BOSTON – The Coast Guard, partner agencies, and a good Samaritan teamed up to respond to three separate Southeastern New England maritime emergencies since Thursday evening.
“Since last night, the command center’s four person watch team utilized our technology and partnerships with local agencies to expertly execute three separate search and rescue cases, saving five lives,” said Captain John Kondratowicz, Commander of Sector Southeastern New England.
At about 4:30 a.m. Friday, the captain aboard the fishing boat Sasha Lee used a VHF-FM radio to contact watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England and relay they were taking on water 11 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard and had four people aboard.
Coast Guard watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, and immediately started to coordinate assistance.
A 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Menemsha launched and the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer, a 270-foot cutter homeported in Boston, also diverted to help.
Once on scene, two Coast Guard station members went aboard Sasha Lee with a dewatering pump and controled the flooding.
A good Samaritan fishing boat, the Triunfo, responded to the UMIB, arrived on scene, and took Sasha Lee into tow. Triunfo towed Sasha Lee into New Bedford.
At about 5 a.m. Friday, a crewman aboard the 57-foot fishing boat Defender contacted Sector Southeastern New England watchstanders reporting a 47-year-old male aboard Defender was suffering a life threatening medical emergency and needed immediate medical attention.
The command center watchstanders arranged for an MH-60 helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod to launch, and coordinated rescue efforts with Massachusetts Environmental Police, who arrived on scene, transferred the man aboard their boat, and subsequently transferred his care to emergency medical personnel.
“The teamwork of the Spencer and Station Menemsha to dewater the Sasha Lee was paramount in keeping the vessel from sinking. The crew of the Sasha Lee were also proactive and well versed in their emergency procedures. Air Station Cape Cod and the Massachusetts Environmental Police were instrumental to medically evacuate a potential heart attack victim. This is the reason why our crews train with local crews and partner agencies — to be force multipliers,” said Kondratowicz.
Prior to Friday’s incidents, Coast Guard Sector Southeastern watchstanders heard “help” at about 7:50 p.m. Thursday over VHF-FM Channel 16 on the Truro Rescue-21 Remote Fixed Facility. Rescue 21 helps accurately identify the location of callers in distress via towers that generate lines of bearing to the source of VHF radio transmissions, thereby significantly reducing search time.
The command center watchstanders did not receive any more broadcasts for help, but were able to get a line of bearing on the call.
The watchstanders issued a UMIB and coordinated for an HC-144 Ocean Sentry air crew from Air Station Cape Cod to search the area. The watch team used NOAA’s Vessel Monitoring System to search for fishing vessels along the line of bearing, and contacted nearby fishing boats to see if they observed any distress signals.
The search was suspended, pending further devlopments, after no further indications of distress.
Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England’s command center serves as the rescue and response hub for eight stations, four cutters, two aids to navigation teams, and two marine safety detachment units that provide service from Manomet Point to Watch Hill Point in Rhode Island.