Multiple agencies receive Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation award

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PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Federal, State, County and several members of the maritime community received a Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation award Thursday during a ceremony held at the Canaveral Port Authority Maritime Center in Port Canaveral, Florida.

On July 1, 2014, the 584-foot bulk carrier J.S. Comet, sought refuge off Port Canaveral, Florida when 19 of the 21 crewmembers aboard were stricken with symptoms of food poisoning and were unable to continue to safely operate the vessel. The coordinated response involved five Coast Guard units, three fire departments, Cape Canaveral Hospital, Brevard County Emergency Management, Space Coast Area Transit, the Canaveral Port Authority, Port Canaveral Pilots, the crew aboard the Victory I casino boat, vessel agents, P&I Club, Customs and Border Patrol and Sea Tow. In total, more than 84 individuals from 15 agencies contributed.

Representatives from multiple agencies and companies receive a Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, during a presentation at the Port Canaveral Port Authority Maritime Center in Port Canaveral, Fla. The award was presented to the representatives for their organizations' cooperation in a rescue operation in July, involving 19 ill crew members aboard the bulk carrier J.S. Comet during a tropical storm. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto)

Representatives from multiple agencies and companies receive a Coast Guard Meritorious Team Commendation Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 at the Port Canaveral Port Authority Maritime Center. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto)

After consultation with the Center for Disease Control, a Coast Guard flight surgeon and other medical professionals, the decision was made to airlift the 19 crewmembers to a local area hospital. Along with all the agencies, companies and personnel involved, this rescue operation was conducted in 35 knot winds and five to six-foot seas associated with the approaching Tropical Storm Arthur.

“In my opinion, this rescue was the definition of teamwork,” said Capt. Tom Allan, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville and Captain of the Port. “Here we had a situation with a distressed vessel, a crew with deteriorating health in the middle of a severe storm. Despite all the challenges on that day, everyone stepped up to pitch in and get these people the medical attention they needed. Everyone performed beyond expectations and lives were saved. I’m proud to present this award to these agency and company representatives for their outstanding work.”

The story of the rescues can be found here and here.

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