Coast Guard coordinates rescue of 3 from sailboat 1,200 miles offshore

BOSTON – The U.S. Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of three people Saturday after a Swedish-flagged, 32-foot sailing boat became disabled and demasted 1,200 miles east of Cape Cod.

An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) aboard the sailboat AELA alerted Coast Guard watchstanders to the distress. The watchstanders promptly directed Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, in North Carolina, to launch a C-130 Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft to ascertain the nature of distress and gain visual contact with the three stranded people.

Watchstanders also spoke with the father of two of the stranded men, who reported his last contact with his sons was Friday via email.

Through the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, an international distress notification system, mariners nearby AELA were alerted to the sailboat’s situation.

Three ships voluntarily participating in the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER), a computer-based global ship reporting system used to determine the position of AMVER ships near a distress location, also responded to assist, each with varying times of arrival for rescue.

A fourth ship, the Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker Alpine Melina, responding to the distress notification, was vectored to AELA’s position by the Coast Guard C-130 aircrew and recovered the three men from the disabled boat early Sunday. The three men are all reported to be in good condition.

The rescued men will stay aboard Alpine Melina until the ship’s next port of call in Mexico, where the survivors will embark flights home to Sweden.

AELA’s intended voyage was from Nassau, Bahamas, to Bermuda, but bad weather forced the boat to attempt to sail to the Azores instead.

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