Coast Guard Responding to Distress Call 130 Miles Off Florida

MIAMI – The Coast Guard Cutter Farallon is powering through 10 to 12-foot seas to reach four boaters aboard a disabled 37-foot sailing vessel approximately 130 miles southwest of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., Thursday.

The crew of the sailing vessel Hot Ticket engaged their emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB)Wednesday afternoon when they lost steering and the vessel began to take on water. The EPIRB signal was received by search and rescue coordinators at the Eighth Coast Guard District Command Center in New Orleans. Eighth District controllers then contacted the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. Mission Control Center in Suitland, MD, to obtain a position of the Hot Ticket from the agency’s Cospas-Sarsat program satellites. Controllers at the Seventh Coast Guard District were then notified of the case. The position of the Hot Ticket was also checked against information passed by the captain to a friend during a satellite phone call.

SAR coordinators at the Seventh Coast Guard District in Miami took control of the rescue, directing the launch of an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla. Moments later, the Atlantic Area Command Center received an alert from the cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas that relayed a mayday call from the Hot Ticket. In the mayday call the crew stated they had lost a rudder, were slowly taking on water and their satellite phone was no longer working.

The Jayhawk helicopter arrived on scene at approximately 8:15 p.m. Wednesday and reported seas in excess of seven feet and winds exceeding 15 knots. The crew of the helicopter attempted to deliver dewatering pumps to the sailing vessel but was unsuccessful due to the deteriorating weather conditions.

An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was launched from Air Station Clearwater approximately 45 minutes later to provide cover and take the role of on-scene commander. The crew of the Cutter Kodiak Island was recalled to assist the Hot Ticket and while transiting to the disabled vessel suffered a generator problem and was forced to return to port. The Cutter Farallon was then diverted from its patrol to assist the Hot Ticket.

An HU-25 Falcon jet from Coast Guard Air Station Miami was launched early this morning to relieve the C-130 that stayed with the disabled vessel throughout the night. The Falcon returned to Miami as it began to run low on fuel and another C-130 returned. That C-130 crew dropped a datum buoy to the Hot Ticket to help track the vessel’s location. Upon completing the drop, the C-130 was diverted to another distress signal 225 miles south of Lake Charles, La., in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard has directed the captain of the Hot Ticket to activate the vessel’s EPIRB should another emergency arise before the Cutter Farallon arrives.

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