Coast Guard rescues sinking fishermen off Sanibel Island

7th Coast Guard District NewsFORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The Coast Guard rescued three fishermen who were disabled, adrift and taking on water 50 miles west of Sanibel Island, Friday.

Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg received a VHF Channel 16 mayday call at 7:30 a.m., from the captain of the 45-foot commercial fishing vessel Savannah Belle who reported taking on water through holes in his stern.

Watchstanders determined their position 50 miles west of Sanibel Island based on an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon activated by the Savannah Belle. Watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Hawk and launched a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater. Station Fort Myers Beach responded with boatcrews aboard a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft – Law Enforcement boat and a 41-foot Utility Boat.

The Jayhawk’s aircrew arrived on scene at 8:50 a.m., lowered a pump and rescue swimmer to assist with dewatering. The rescue swimmer worked with the ship’s crew to contain the flooding and completely dewatered the vessel at 9:19 a.m., but the Savannah Belle remains disabled.

The SPC-LE crew Station Fort Myers Beach arrived on scene at approximately 9:20 a.m. and placed two crew members on the vessel to control the flooding. Station Fort Myers Beach 41-foot UTB arrived on scene at approximately 11:30 a.m., and is towing the vessel back to the nearest safe haven.

“This case highlights the life-saving benefits of having a VHF radio on your vessel,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmy Muller, search and rescue controller at Sector St. Petersburg. “VHF radios and devices like EPIRBs allow us to get help to mariners in distress faster.”

Weather on scene is light wind, calm seas with unlimited visibility. No injuries have been reported.

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