Coast Guard assists grounded vessel in St. Marys River

9th Coast Guard District NewsCLEVELAND — A Coast Guard boatcrew assisted four people Thursday morning who were aboard a 37-foot sailing vessel that grounded in the St. Marys River near Johnson’s Point, Mich.

There were no injuries reported and all four were wearing life jackets.

Watchstanders in the command center and at the Vessel Traffic Service at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., received a distress call from the vessel about midnight via VHF-FM radio. A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie immediately launched aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium. After verifying the vessel was not taking on water, the boatcrew was able to free the vessel at 2:53 a.m. and escorted the vessel’s crew to open water.

“Having and using a marine-band radio allowed the Coast Guard to get to these people very quickly,” said Petty Officer 1st Class James Coppola, a search-and-rescue controller in the command center at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. “It also allowed the people on the sailboat to contact the Vessel Traffic Service, enabling them to make sure that no commercial traffic was affected.”

A marine band radio is the best way for mariners to contact the Coast Guard or marine response agencies if they are in distress on the water. When a mayday is sent out via VHF-FM radio it is a broadcast, not just a one-to-one communication as when made via phone. When mariners ask for help on a marine radio, any nearby boaters can hear the distress call and offer immediate assistance. Channel 16 is the international distress frequency and should be used for emergencies only.

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