High School Students Rescue Three Fishermen

MIAMI – Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Key West Command Center are currently keeping radio contact with the 80-foot sailing vessel, Dennis Sullivan, after it suffered a one-foot puncture to its hull while rescuing three fishermen off the coast of Islamorada, Fla., in the Florida Keys last night.

At 10:58 last night, Sector Key West received a mayday call from three people on board a 33-foot fishing vessel, stating they were going down 11-miles southeast of Islamorada. A 33-foot SPC-LE boat crew from Coast Guard Station Islamorada was immediately launched to search for the sinking vessel.

The Dennis Sullivan was en route to Key West, Fla., with 29 high school students on board from Riviera Beach Maritime Academy when the students saw three red flares in their vicinity. The students on the Dennis Sullivan located the three fishermen near their partially submerged vessel at about 12:06 this morning and quickly brought them on board the Dennis Sullivan. While conducting the operation the Dennis Sullivan struck the fisherman’s submerged vessel, causing the one-foot puncture to Dennis Sullivan’s hull.

The Coast Guard District Seven Command Center search and rescue coordinator directed an HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Miami to proceed to the scene and lower a dewatering pump while Sector Key West diverted the cutter VIGOROUS and launched an additional Station Islamorada small boat to assist. The HH-65 arrived on scene and successfully lowered the pump but it and the vessel’s reserve pump were not able to keep up with the flooding. After the second small boat from Station Islamorada arrived on scene and delivered a third pump, the Dennis Sullivan’s crew, along with Station Islamorada personnel, were able to patch the hole and contain the flooding.

The three fishermen were medically evacuated by crews from Station Islamorada to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Islamorada. The Dennis Sullivan declined assistance from commercial salvage and is currently en-route to Key West to affect repairs. Sector Key West will maintain radio communication with the Dennis Sullivan until its arrival in port.

In addition, the Coast Guard cutter KNIGHT ISLAND, an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter deployed with Operation Bahamas Turks and Caico’s and an HH-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami were deployed to assist but crews from Station Islamorada and Air Station Miami were able to provide sufficient assistance before their arrival.

The Coast Guard Cutter KNIGHT ISLAND is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Sailing Vessel Dennis Sullivan

Information regarding the sailing vessel Dennis Sullivan are available at www.discoveryworld.org.

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