Coast Guardsmen save lives, property before returning home from patrol

5th Coast Guard District News
CAPE MAY, N.J. – A local Coast Guard cutter crew returned home to Cape May Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. following a 30-day patrol to protect living marine resources and to conduct search and rescue operations in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous patrolled the fishing grounds on George’s Bank and in the western Gulf of Maine, conducting more than 50 fisheries enforcement boardings on a variety of fishing vessels. The crew’s mission was to ensure compliance with U.S. fisheries regulations and safety standards for commercial fishing vessels and to protect the fishing fleet.

“Our persistent presence in the northern Atlantic fishing grounds was critical to protecting the maritime ecosystem and natural resources important to our national economy and livelihood,” said Cmdr. Terry Johns, commanding officer of the Vigorous. “We were very impressed with the professionalism of the fishing fleet and their understanding and compliance with safety and fishery regulations.”

Servicemembers from the Vigorous boarded numerous types of fishing vessels, including multi-marine species, quahog and long liner fishing vessels. Each vessel requires the cutter’s law enforcement team member to know the safety and fisheries regulations for each one. The recreational and commercial fishing industry has an economic impact of more than $20 billion to the United States, employing tens of thousands of people and providing a food source for millions of Americans.

“It’s great to see that the partnerships between the fisherman, the Coast Guard, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others are paying huge dividends in keeping the industry safe and productive,” said Johns. “We also served as a critical search and rescue asset for the fishing fleet and were ready to answer the call to help save lives and property.”

While on patrol June 10, the Vigorous crew received a mayday call from the fishing vessel Angela Michelle. The fishing vessel lost power and was adrift with four people near the George’s Bank fishing grounds in eight-foot seas, 30-knot winds, rain and fog.

The crew aboard Vigorous sailed more than 70 miles to respond to the fishermen’s call for help and took the 50-foot fishing vessel into tow. The cutter’s crew towed the disabled fishing vessel more than 140 nautical miles to Gloucester, Mass., saving the fishermen’s vessel and their lives.

“This case is just an example of how the Coast Guard at any given time could be the cop on the beat, the rescuer in the dark, the environmental watchdog or the military outpost,” said Johns. “Our crew and ship are vital multi-mission resources ready to respond wherever our Nation and its people need us.”

The Vigorous has an 80-person crew and is a medium endurance cutter built for multi-week offshore patrols including operations requiring enhanced communications and helicopter and pursuit boat operations, which provide a key capability for homeland security missions at sea.

The 43-year-old Vigorous and the other medium endurance cutters are slated for replacement by an Offshore Patrol Cutter. The new OPCs will operate more than 50 miles from land, carrying out the Coast Guard’s maritime security and safety activities in support of national interests. The OPC will be an economical, multi-mission ship, providing pursuit boat and helicopter capabilities and interoperability with other military and federal partners, superior to the cutters they replace. Equipped with modern sensors, the Offshore Patrol Cutter will provide the enhanced surveillance necessary to detect threats far from U.S. shores and meet the demands of the Coast Guard’s homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement and other vital missions.

CAPE MAY, N.J. – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous enters Cape May Harbor following a 30-day deployment in support of U.S. fisheries enforcement and search and rescue operations in the northern Atlantic Ocean June 26, 2013. The Cutter Vigorous is homeported at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Jennifer Nease.

Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous enters Cape May Harbor following a 30-day deployment in support of U.S. fisheries enforcement and search and rescue operations in the northern Atlantic Ocean June 26, 2013. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Jennifer Nease.

Photos of the homecoming may be viewed at the Coast Guard News Flickr page.

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