PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard rescued three fishermen and a dog Saturday after their vessel became disabled and ran aground two miles off Wachapreague Inlet.
Watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads Command Center in Portsmouth received notification at 2:42 a.m. Saturday that the 60-foot commercial fishing vessel Storm was soft aground near Wachapreague Inlet with three people and a dog aboard. The vessel freed itself, however two hours later the crew discovered serious damage to the rudder along with flooding.
A 47-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB) crew launched from Coast Guard Station Chincoteague at 4:47 a.m. and made way toward the scene in 12-15 foot seas, arriving at 8:18 a.m.
The MLB crew found Storm adrift with no way to steer the vessel. The MLB crew assessed the situation and determined a tow would not work due to the deck configuration of the fishing vessel and the sea state.
The crew aboard Storm attempted to anchor the vessel to prevent it from drifting but were not successful due to the heavy weather. By this time the heavy seas made it too dangerous for a direct transfer of people between vessels.
An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, at 12:23 p.m.
The aircrew arrived on scene at 1:02 p.m., and hoisted all three people and their dog to the helicopter by 1:58 p.m. They were transported to Richmond International Airport, arriving at 2:30 p.m.
Fishing vessel Storm remains unmanned and adrift with an activated EPIRB aboard and all navigational lights energized.
The Coast Guard is issuing an hourly broadcast notice to mariners to alert them of the drifting vessel and will continue to track its location.
Fishing vessel Storm holds approximately 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
“Complicated heavy weather events like Post Tropical Storm Hermine require difficult decisions, and in this case, the captain and crew decided to abandon the vessel, possibly saving their lives,” said Capt. Rick Wester, Commander, Sector Hampton Roads. “We’re very glad we were able to return them to safety and that they are doing well.”