NEWPORT, Ore. — Operating a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat and the 52-foot Motor Lifeboat Victory, the crew of Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Blue Shark totaled 40 hours of underway time towing two disabled fishing vessels to safety from a total of 159 miles offshore, Saturday and Sunday.
Station Yaquina Bay’s crew also medically evacuated one person off a research vessel 26 miles offshore, towed a fire damaged boat with four persons on board into Newport from 3 miles offshore and assisted two people from an aground sailing vessel near the North Jetty of Yaquina Bay.
Saturday morning around 9 a.m., the crew of the commercial fishing vessel Kay Ann, 75 miles offshore, reported a broken water pump to the Coast Guard. After no response to a marine assistance radio broadcast, the 52-foot MLB Victory, a 60-year-old surf boat specifically designed for work in the Pacific Northwest, launched from Station Yaquina Bay in Newport. The Victory arrived on scene with the Kay Ann at about midnight and commenced towing back to Newport. The tow home lasted almost 11 hours with an arrival and mooring of the Kay Ann at 10:45 a.m., Sunday.
The steel-hulled 52-foot motor lifeboat was designed for offshore rescue under some of the worst sea conditions. They are self-righting and self-bailing and can carry up to 40 survivors.
The 52-footers are constructed of steel. Among other features that increase their range and endurance, the craft is fitted with a mess deck. The boat is equipped with 250-gallon-per-minute pump for dewatering and fire fighting. These are the only Coast Guard vessels under 65-feet in length with names, a tradition started beginning with their 52-foot wooden-hulled predecessors. Beyond the search and rescue mission, they are also assigned to maritime law enforcement, marine environmental protection, and recreational boating safety duties.
“These motor lifeboats and the crew that operate them have proven time and again their abilities to provide assistance at great distances from shore to conduct heavy tows when other resources are not available,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Dean Smith, 13th District regional boat manager. “A minor tow can become a major concern given the distance of the fishing fleets and unpredictable weather in the Pacific Northwest.”
At 8:19 a.m., Saturday, a Coast Guard crew from Station Yaquina Bay responded to a report of a recreational boat on fire 3 miles northwest of Newport. The fire was extinguished prior to the Coast Guard arriving on scene, but the rescue crew towed the vessel into Newport and safely moored the boat at 10:30 a.m.
At 12:25 p.m. Saturday, the commercial fishing vessel Barbara Marie, 84 miles offshore, reported a broken motor to the Coast Guard and requested a tow. With the Victory already responding to a case, the Coast Guard Cutter Blue Shark, an 87-foot Patrol Boat homeported in Everett, Washington, but patrolling in the Columbia River, was diverted to assist. The Blue Shark arrived on scene with the Barbara Marie at 12:13 a.m., Sunday, and commenced a tow toward Yaquina Bay. At 1:30 p.m., Sunday, a 47-foot MLB crew rendezvoused with the Blue Shark, just outside the entrance to Yaquina Bay and completed the tow.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, a 47-foot MLB crew medically evacuated a 36-year-old Hong Kong National from a 204-foot Marshall Island-flagged research vessel, which was 26 miles offshore. The injury was a severe hand injury reportedly suffered during line handling. The MLB crew safely transported the injured crewmember to Newport and transferred the patient to emergency medical services.
At 10:30 p.m., Sunday, crewmembers from Station Yaquina Bay and an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Newport responded to an aground sailing vessel on the north side of the North Jetty. A rescue swimmer was delivered to the beach by a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, and he waded out to assist the two boaters. The rescue swimmer helped the two persons to the beach and turned them over to EMS. The grounded sailing vessel has an estimated 30 gallons of fuel on board. Coast Guard pollution responders will work with state and local authorities in response to the pollution threat.