Coast Guard Saves Three off Carolina Coast

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Three mariners onboard a 53-foot sailboat are safe after their vessel became disabled in 10-foot seas and 25-knot winds 34 miles south of Cape Fear, N.C., yesterday evening.

Coast Guard watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Charleston were notified by Tow Boat U.S., a commercial salvage company. The crew of the 53-foot sailing vessel Leroy requested assistance after they suffered an engine casualty and began drifting off the South Carolina coast.

Coast Guard rescue crews from Stations Georgetown, S.C., and Station Oak Island launched 41-foot utility boats to assist the Leroy’s crew but were forced to turn back after watch standers at Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) in Portsmouth, Va., determined that the heavy winds and seas would put the rescue crews and their vessels at risk.

“It was determined that the distance to the vessel combined with the unsafe weather conditions on scene were outside of the safe operating limits of the 41-foot utility boats and would put both the rescue crews and their vessels at risk,” said Lt. Emily Morrison, a watch stander at RCC Portsmouth.

Rescue crew’s onboard a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and an HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Charleston, S.C., were then dispatched to assist the Leroy’s crew.

After a four hour transit, in 10 to 12-foot seas and 30 knot winds, aboard their 47-foot motor life boat, Station Wrightsville Beach’s rescue crew arrived on scene at 12:00 a.m., and took the sailboat in tow.

The 47-foot motor life boat crew safely towed the Leroy to the South Harbor Village Marina in Southport, N.C., arriving shortly after 7:30 this morning.

“Everybody in my crew did a really good job setting up the tow in the rough conditions last night,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Schwalm, boatswain’s mate and rescue coxswain from Station Wrightsville Beach, N.C.

The 47-foot motor lifeboat is a self righting, self bailing, all aluminum vessel, capable of operating in 20-foot breaking seas, 60 knot winds, and can survive impacts three times the force of gravity. They carry a standard crew of four and can carry five additional passengers/survivors in an internal survivor’s compartment.

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