Coast Guard rescues four persons, tows disabled sailboat Bounty to safe harbor

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo towed the disabled French-flag sailboat Bounty into St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands Friday night, rescuing the two crewmembers and two passengers onboard.

Rescued are three men and a woman, one a U.S. citizen, two are French citizens and the other is a dual citizen of both nations.

The 65-foot Bounty was traveling from the state of Virginia to St. Marteen, when the sailboat reportedly lost steering in 10-foot seas and deteriorating weather in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 215 nautical miles north of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received notification from Coast Guard Atlantic Area Watchstanders, who relayed a call Tuesday night from the National Command Center reporting the distress.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Watchstanders alerted the Coast Guard Cutter Sapelo that got underway to rendezvous with the Bounty and render assistance, and also initiated an Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) alert that was answered by the crew of the Chinese-flag CSAV Lingue. The 858-foot container ship Lingue diverted course and arrived on scene with the Bounty Wednesday morning to monitor the situation and render rescue assistance if needed until Sapelo’s arrival.

The Sapelo arrived on scene with the Bounty Wednesday evening in deteriorating weather 10-foot seas and the crew confirmed that all passengers onboard were safe. The crew of the Sapelo embarked the Bounty and accomplished temporary repairs to lock the sailboat’s steering in place, which allowed them to safely take the sailboat in tow. The crew of the Sapelo towed the Bounty to safe harbor in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, where they released the sailing vessel and rescued persons to conduct needed repairs.

“This case highlights how true mariners come together to save lives in the time of need, said Capt. Drew Pearson, Sector San Juan commander. The swift response and superb teamwork between the AMVER ship Lingue and Coast Guard rescue crews throughout this three-day response led to four lives being saved.”

Sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, AMVER is a computer-based, voluntary global ship reporting system used to assist and rescue mariners in distress. The system allows rescuers to determine what ships are in the area and which are best suited to respond to a distress call. AMVER is open to any commercial vessel over 1,000 gross tons, regardless of nation of origin.

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