Coast Guard rescues fishing crew from sinking vessel

BOSTON- The Coast Guard saved the three-member crew of an 82-foot fishing vessel from Point Judith, R.I., around 8:45 p.m., that had to abandon ship more than 180 miles southeast of Cape Cod today.

Coast Guard Sector Northern New England and the Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Canada, got a radio call around 6:30 p.m., from the sailing vessel ING Coffer relaying distress calls overheard from the fishing vessel Dona Maria stating they were rapidly taking on water.

The Coast Guard Command Center in Boston dispatched a Falcon jet and a Jayhawk rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, and the Dona Maria’s crew was instructed to manually activate their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon so the air crews could track their location.

The Falcon jet crew arrived on scene around 7:20 p.m., to pinpoint and maintain the location of the crew in the life raft.

The helicopter crew arrived on scene around 8:30 p.m., and hoisted the crewmembers, all reported to be in good condition, and arrived back at Air Station Cape Cod around 9:50 p.m.

“The key to this case was the relay of information between all parties involved that allowed us to respond quickly,” said John Tomaszewski, a search and rescue controller at the Coast Guard Command Center in Boston. “The EPIRB aboard the vessel was essential to allow us to monitor the location of the crew in distress.”

The crew of the Dona Maria had a 406MHz EPIRB aboard their vessel when they began taking on water. The Coast Guard reminds mariners to make the switch to this new life-saving digital Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons before the clock runs out on older non-digital equipment.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard and other search and rescue personnel will only monitor mayday calls that are broadcast using digital 406MHz EPIRB beacons. Older 121.5 MHz EPIRB distress signals will no longer be detected or sent directly to search and rescue personnel.

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