Coast Guard and Navy work together to rescue man from sunken sailboat

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard and Navy worked together Sunday morning to return a rescued man to shore after his sailboat sank about 250 nautical miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Coast Guard Fifth District watchstanders received a satellite distress signal at 5:07 p.m. Saturday from the sailboat Gloria A Dios. They launched an Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., HC-130J Hercules aircraft crew to search for the sailboat, began broadcasting an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to notify other mariners, used satellite Enhanced Group Calls to target other vessels in the area for help and diverted an AMVER vessel (a ship participating in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System.)

The Hercules crew made contact with the Gloria A Dios operator, Dennis Clements, at about 6:30 p.m. and found that his sailboat had been taking on water since Wednesday due to storms and needed help. The Coast Guard watchstanders and Navy's U.S. Second Fleet Maritime Operations Center coordinated to identify the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its air assets as the quickest and safest way to rescue Clements.

The crew of the Hercules dropped a life raft near the Gloria A Dios after a large wave demasted it causing two holes in the port side cabin at about 9:30 p.m. The sailboat sank and Eisenhower's rescue helicopter crew picked up the man from the water around 10:30 p.m. and flew more than 100 miles back to the carrier with the Hercules flying overhead.

In the meantime, an Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter crew had flown to the Eisenhower to refuel. The rescued man was checked by the Eisenhower's senior medical officer and the Jayhawk's crew flew him safely back to Elizabeth City. The rescued man was back to solid ground Sunday at 3:45 a.m.

"When a mariner in distress is hundreds of miles offshore, the best platform to assist might be a commercial vessel transiting between ports or a DoD asset," said Lt. Scott L. Farr, a watchstander at the Coast Guard Fifth District Command Center. "The motor vessel Ryujin was diverted but could not maintain their course to affect a rescue due to heavy seas. Ultimately, the quick and effective coordination between the Fifth District Command Center, Air Station Elizabeth City and the USS Eisenhower provided assistance to this mariner with the use of multiple aircraft by coordinating and leveraging their unique capabilities when no one else was within 100 nautical miles of the sailboat's position."

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