Coast Guard and Navy assist 4 in sinking fishing boat

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. – The Coast Guard is assisting a distressed fishing vessel with four crewmembers onboard approximately 69 miles east of Chincoteague Thursday.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland received a distress call from the crew of the fishing vessel Travis & Natalie stating they were taking on water and needed assistance.

The Northland’s crew set a course for the sinking boat, and it took them approximately two hours to reach its position. In the meantime, Coast Guard watchstanders at the 5th Coast Guard District headquarters in Portsmouth, Va., directed Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., to launch and assist.

Air Station Elizabeth City launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew, equipped with dewatering pumps, to assist. They contacted the Navy’s Fleet Forces Atlantic Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility Virginia Capes to request that the air space surrounding the Travis & Natalie’s position was clear to prevent the risk of collision, according to Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Michael Miller, the watchstander on duty at the air station.

After that, Miller said he received a call from the Navy Second Fleet, and they were very eager to volunteer their services.

“The Second Fleet informed us that there was a U.S. warship in the area and they were willing to have an aircraft launch and fly over to put eyes on scene until the Coast Guard helicopter could arrive,” said Lt. Donald Flusche, a 5th District watchstander.

A Second Fleet airplane launched and located the distraught vessel and remained until the helicopter arrived to transfer dewatering pumps to the crew of the Travis & Natalie.

Upon the Northland’s arrival, a small boat crew from the cutter boarded the fishing boat to investigate the source of flooding and assist with dewatering efforts. They discovered that a net float had broken the rudder packing, causing the water to enter. They have stopped the flooding.

“This is just another example of how the Coast Guard and the Navy are always working together,” Flusche said.

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