Coast Guard jet drops pump, radio to distressed fishing vessel

Coast Guard District 8 NewsCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard assisted a fishing vessel that was disabled by an onboard fire 30 miles east of Port Mansfield, Sunday.

Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi received a distress signal from an emergency positioning beacon registered to the Jennifer C., a 65-foot fishing vessel shortly before 10 a.m. watchstanders were unable to establish radio communications with the vessel.

A HU-25 Falcon jet and crew from Air Station Corpus Christi were launched to locate the vessel. The Falcon crew observed crewmembers aboard the Jennifer C. shooting flares and waving orange flags to get their attention.

Using the Falcon’s aerial delivery system from a height of 200 feet above the water, the crew of the Falcon dropped a handheld marine band radio to the fishing vessel crewmembers.

“Dropping a radio was essential for establishing communications with the vessel and determining the nature of their distress,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane Mork, dropmaster on the Falcon.

Within an hour of receiving the initial distress signal, the Falcon was able to establish communications with the crew of the Jennifer C. The vessel had suffered an explosion and onboard fire, and was able to extinguish it. However, the vessel was unable to maneuver and had water in its bilge. The four crewmembers were uninjured.

The Falcon conducted a second aerial delivery to drop a dewatering pump to the crew of the Jennifer C.

A 33-foot Special Purpose Craft and crew from Coast Guard Station South Padre Island arrived on scene at approximately 1 p.m. to provide assistance. The crew determined the vessel was safe, though it would need to be towed to port.

A good Samaritan from the fishing Capt. Linwood took the Jennifer C. in tow until the Coast Guard Cutter Steelhead, an 87-foot patrol boat from Port Aransas, arrived on scene.

“The vessel had the right tools to communicate being in distress,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Hitt, situation unit controller. “Having an emergency positioning beacon takes the search out of search and rescue.”

When a 406 MHz emergency beacon signal is received, search and rescue personnel can retrieve information from a registration database. This includes the beacon owner’s contact information, emergency contact information, and vessel/aircraft identifying characteristics. Having this information allows the Coast Guard, or other rescue personnel, to respond appropriately.

In the U.S., users are required by law to directly register their beacon in the U.S. 406 MHz Beacon Registration Database at: http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/ or by calling 1-888-212-SAVE. Other users can register their beacon in their country’s national beacon registration database or, if no national database is available, in the International Beacon Registration Database at https://www.406registration.com/.

The United States Coast Guard is the lead agency for coordinating national maritime search and rescue policy and is responsible for providing search and rescue services on, under and over assigned international waters and waters subject to United States jurisdiction.

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