Coast Guard, partners rescue boaters from jetty off Delaware coast

5th Coast Guard District News
Atlantic City = The Coast Guard and partner agencies rescued two boaters Monday from a vessel that ran hard aground on the North Jetty of Indian River Inlet, Delaware.

There were two people aboard the boat, one of whom reportedly suffered injuries.

Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet received the distress call and launched two crews — one aboard a 47-foot Motor Life boat, and the other aboard a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft – Shallow Water vessel. Multiple agencies arrived on scene from sea, land and air. The numerous vessels provided essential lighting via floodlights and spotlights for rescue attempt. Approximately 12 volunteer firefighters were on scene to assist.

Boat Aground

With a variety of on-scene assets, it was determined the best approach for the rescue was from the rock jetty itself.

“I proceeded on the jetty toward the vessel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nick Muskalla, the executive petty officer of Station Indian River Inlet. “The rocks were very slippery. On the way out to the distressed vessel I fell in the water between the rocks, but I managed to pull myself out and only suffered cuts to my hands and left leg from barnacles and rocks. I reached the end of the rock jetty where a firefighter named Rob and I began to devise a plan of action to embark on the vessel safely.”

They erected a ladder near the boat’s port bow and made their way onto the vessel.

“Once aboard, Rob and I chose to split responsibilities,” said Muskalla. “I immediately assessed the vessel’s structural condition. It was rising off the rocks and then slamming down causing a violent shuttering.”

There were multiple holes in the hull allowing water to freely enter the vessel. Since the boat had grounded on the rocks, it was not in danger of sinking.

“Rob was tending to the injured person aboard,” said Muskalla. “Soon after, a third person made his way onto the vessel to assist us in the medical evaluation and stabilization.”

Lewes Fire Rescue personnel approached the grounded vessel to pass a hard backboard and a flotation litter for safe transport.

“We quickly secured the patient to the backboard, placed him in the litter, and conducted a transfer by sea to the Lewes Fire Rescue boat,” said Muskalla.

Once the patient was safely transferred, the rescuers disembarked from the vessel, made it to the beach safely, and conducted a debrief with the vessel’s owner.

Boaters transiting the area are urged to use caution while salvage operations are ongoing.

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