Urgent distress calls, signals prompt rescue of six fishermen

BOSTON – An urgent mayday call and two Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signals prompted a swift Coast Guard response and the rescue of six Plymouth, Mass.,-based fishermen 40 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., about 6 p.m., today.

Personnel at Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England attempted to establish communications with the 70-foot fishing boat Jacob Allen after hearing the vessel’s triple mayday call on the VHF marine radio.

The sector was not able to establish direct communications, but another vessel, Ms. Maria, relayed that the Jacob Allen was rapidly taking on water and in danger of sinking.

Simultaneously, the Coast Guard First District Command Center in Boston received an EPIRB signal from the Jacob Allen, as well as a personal EPIRB signal from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship rider aboard the boat.

The sector immediately made a radio broadcast urging mariners in the area to assist the Jacob Allen. The Coast Guard command center diverted a nearby Falcon jet based at Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., the Kittery, Maine-based Coast Guard Cutter Campbell, which was patrolling the waters about 50 miles away, and launched a Jayhawk rescue helicopter from the air station.

The helicopter crew spotted a flare originating from the Jacob Allen’s estimated position while they were en route. When the helicopter arrived on scene with the Jacob Allen, Good Samaritans aboard the fishing vessel Sancor were recovering all six fishermen from a life raft.

The Sancor is taking the fishermen, none of whom were injured, to New Bedford, Mass., and is expected to arrive by 6 a.m., Saturday.

“This case is a perfect example of why all boaters should have registered EPIRBs,” said Lt. Chris Cederholm, a search and rescue coordinator at Sector Southeastern New England. “Because of the EPIRBs, and the quick actions of the Good Samaritans, these men are heading home safe to their families, and we have a happy conclusion to this case.”

The sector is broadcasting safety messages on the radio to warn mariners of the unlit, partially submerged vessel.

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