Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Police rescue 2 overdue fishermen off Ponce, Puerto Rico

Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Leake

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) crews combined efforts to rescue two fishermen early Sunday morning, approximately 15 nautical miles west of “Caja de Muertos” Island just off Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Rescued are Orlando Alvarado Soto and Pedro Ramos Ramos, who left on a fishing trip from the Ponce fishing village early Saturday morning aboard the 24-foot fishing vessel Carolina del Mar, however the fishermen did not return when expected Saturday afternoon.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders were initially contacted at 10:50 p.m. Saturday by FURA personnel, who relayed a report from Ramos’ wife reporting the fishermen overdue.

Coast Guard watchstanders diverted a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft and the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser to search for the fishermen.

At approximately 12:40 a.m. Sunday, the crew of the Coast Guard aircraft observed a vessel with lights on and the people onboard signaling the aircraft with flashing lights. The Coast Guard aircrew vectored-in the crew of a responding FURA marine unit to the vessel’s position, who confirmed the vessel to be the Carolina del Mar with the overdue fishermen onboard in good condition.

“This was a successful rescue thanks to the efficient response and close collaboration of the Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police units involved,” said Lt. Roberto Concepción, Sector San Juan command duty officer. “The fact that the fishermen were reported overdue by a family member and that they had signaling equipment onboard, where both significant factors which contributed to their rescue.”

The crew of the FURA marine unit proceeded to take the fishing vessel in tow to the Ponce fishing village, where the fishermen were released.

Boating Safety Tips:

  • Boaters are reminded to equip their vessels with safety equipment, be mindful of state boating laws, and be courteous to fellow boaters while operating on the water.
  • There should be a personal flotation device on the vessel for each person, sized accordingly.
  • Boaters should have flares and are encouraged to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with 406 MHz capabilities to enable a faster response by the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.
  • Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16, in the event an emergency. The Coast Guard reminds radio operators that VHF channel 16 is an emergency channel and that improper transmission on channel 16 not only hampers Coast Guard response, but is punishable under federal law.
  • The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and location to which you will be heading. It is also recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if your plan should change.
  • Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A. Current weather information and advisories can be found on the National Weather Service website. http://www.weather.gov/sju/marine.
  • It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is also strongly discouraged.

Prior to taking to the water, boaters are encouraged to go to http://uscgboating.org/ for more complete information on safe boating. The Coast Guard also highly recommends boaters get a free vessel-safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. More information on these inspections can be found at http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org/. A few minutes now could save a life later.

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