HOUSTON — Coast Guard units in Houston and Corpus Christi responded to two disabled boats sinking within seven minutes of one another Thursday night.
At 8:25 p.m., Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders were notified of a 17-foot Boston Whaler that was taking on with two men aboard, 100 yards off Kemah.
Just a few minutes later, at 8:32 p.m., a Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentryairplane crew noticed a 22-foot Kenner boat with three men in distress about 2 miles off Bob Hall Pier.
Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews were sent from both Air Station Houston and Corpus Christi. They both lowered rescue swimmers to the sinking boats and rendered assistance as boat crews arrived.
The Kemah Fire Department was able to get their boat crew on scene to help tow the Boston Whaler to safety as the Houston aircrew took one of the men back to Ellington Field. They left their rescue swimmer to help as the helicopter needed to refuel. Neither of the men had any injuries and they were reunited as the Air Station crew drove out to pickup their rescue swimmer.
“We greatly appreciate the Kemah Fire Department for responding quickly to a growing dire situation,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Panella, one of the Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders. “Having your GPS position greatly decreases the response time.”
The watchstanders at Sector Corpus Christi launched a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Port Aransas, which arrived about the same time as the helicopter. The rescue swimmer used a pump dropped by the airplane crew, but was not able to save the boat. The boat crew picked up the three men and brought them back to Station Port Aransas. None of the men reported any injuries.