Coast Guard crew answers the call (but left their socks ashore)

Mid Atlantic Coast Guard News
Story by Ensign Jacob Boross

On Nov. 10, a crew of about 100 Coast Guard men and women were at sea in the North Atlantic, towing a disabled sailboat and its crew back to safety after the sailboat lost a rudder in rough weather.  The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Forward charged out from the Chesapeake Bay the Friday before without as much as a change of clothing or even milk for their morning cereal.  It was an unplanned mission, and the crew took it in stride – sharing clothing items, donating toiletries to those in need and even adding blue food coloring to white cake to brighten their meager meal.

Like most emergencies at sea, the call for assistance came suddenly, and the crew of the Forward answered the call with a nearly empty ship.

A boatcrew from the Coast Guard Cutter Forward assists the crew of the sailboat Jammin Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, about 173 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., on the Atlantic Ocean. The crew of the Jammin, a 42-foot sailboat, contacted the Coast Guard after they lost their rudder. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Harper

A boatcrew from the Coast Guard Cutter Forward assists the crew of the sailboat Jammin Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, about 173 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C., on the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Chris Harper

Two days prior, the crew departed from their homeport of Portsmouth, Va., to conduct training operations in the Chesapeake Bay with another crew from a neighboring station.  Additionally, the crew had removed almost everything from the ship, including food, bedding and personal items in preparation for a trip to the Coast Guard yard the following week.  The crew was prepared to sail to the shipyard for long-awaited maintenance and upgrades to the ship, which is older than many of the crewmembers who serve aboard. Once they completed their training that afternoon, the crew received word of a distressed sailboat crew approximately 180 miles off the North Carolina coast.

The sailboat Wings was disabled with three people aboard after the sailboat incurred engine and rudder casualties in heavy weather. The crew of the Forward responded immediately by altering their course and headed out to sea to the last known position of Wings.  Forward arrived on scene early the next morning to provide assistance.  While on scene with Wings, the Forward crew learned of another distressed sailboat approximately 20 miles away.  The Jammin, a 42-foot sailboat with two people aboard, had also suffered a rudder casualty in the same weather.  After receiving assurance the crew of Wings was safe, and after ensuring another Coast Guard asset was en route to assist, the Forward crew diverted to respond to the second distressed sailboat.  Forward arrived on scene with Jammin, rendered assistance and began to tow the sailboat back to shore.

A recent boot camp graduate, 20-year-old Tampa native Fireman Joshua Lyons got his first taste of Coast Guard operations after serving aboard the Forward for only three weeks.

“Responding to this search and rescue case has been exciting and challenging,” Lyons said.  “It’s a good feeling knowing we’re helping people. This is what we signed up to do.”

Cutters like Forward possess the unmatched combination of range, speed, and ability to operate in extreme weather, providing the mission flexibility necessary to conduct alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic fisheries protection, search and rescue, counter-narcotics and homeland security operations from South America to the Bering Sea.  Assets like Forward conduct these operations at great distances from shore, keeping threats far from the U.S. mainland and strengthening the security of our partner nations.

More photos from the case can be viewed by clicking the photo.

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  1. Jack Wishman says:

    I was just wondering while reading. Who pays for all of this frivolity? Is it the taxpayer or those that can afford to put themselves n others in harms way?

  2. Kelsey says:

    I am so thankful to the USCG and the crew of the Cutter Forward for rescuing my parents from drifting further out and being at the mercy of the ocean. I will forever be grateful. Thank you for your sacrifices and service for our country and it’s people.

  3. Erin Metzger says:

    @Jack Wishman, what is frivolous about saving people’s lives? The CG Cutter Forward was already underway doing training exercises, it could have cost more time and money to deploy another vessel to the aid of the two vessels who were in distress.

  4. Ed Delosreyes says:

    @Jack Wishman. After I took a breath, I am wondering if you are referring to the mariners who got into trouble after encountering stormy conditions at sea. In most cases, mariners who take on the open ocean are well-prepared and typically do not require the assistance. Things happen to both seasoned professional and recreational mariners all the time that are both unexpected and also unavoidable. A life at peril at sea is the same regardless of the circumstances that got them there. The Coast Guard goes through great lengths to ensure that ALL alternative means have been explored before launching assets. I agree with Erin – they were the closest asset to respond. The Coast Guard has been a rich part of this Nation’s history, protection, security and commerce since 1790….nothing frivolous about that. Happy Veteran’s Day.

  5. Ken and Ruth Frazee says:

    Thank you, Coast Guard Ship Forward and Crew for rescuing our good friends on the Jammin. We are grateful for the help the Coast Guard provides to mariners in time of emergency.

  6. Luis J Menendez says:

    Fireman Joshua Lyons, proud of you and the US Coast Guard.

  7. Jack Wishman says:

    I totally agree, I’m glad everyone returned home safely wether it be the sailors involved in the Salty Dave Rally or those sent out to rescue them! Any life lost to accident is one to many. Accidents happen but many times could be prevented. If one boat set out on any given day any given day and ran into problems I wouldn’t ? it. The fact that 7 sailboats,wings,Jammin,Ahimsa,Nyapa,Aurora,Brave Heart, &Zulu found themselves in harms way is a different story. The USCG deployed 2-C-130’s, 1 MH60 payback helo

  8. Jack Wishman says:

    1 MY-60 jayhawk helo, a 47’MLB & 2 CGC’s the Block Island & the Forward. Along with these 6 assets& numerous crew members were 2 NAVY SHIPS & crews. The USS Bella Gulf & the USS COLE ((I’m wondering if this is the same ship that lost 17 of her soldiers to the senseless attack in the middle east some time ago). Since thursday I’m reading about distress calls from these sailboats and the assets deployed, sometimes to be called off cause they were no longer needed. Those vessels should have been brought in & inspected even if more assets were needed. If I were headed to any event like my favorite sporting event & my car had problems, I would hope anyone responding would make sure I & my car were safe.I would hope they would send a tow truck, but I wouldn’t expect them to pay for the tow! As far as the USCG I have nothing but the utmost respect for them & what they do, as is the case with the Navy & the rest of our Services. The fact that those involved with the Salty Dave Rally required so many assets at a cost that I would think exceed $100k dollars I as a taxpayer would expect them to cover the costs. As far as the USCG FORWARD goes, I think they gave a whole new meaning to SEMPER PARATUS. They showed how they were “always ready” even if their wasn’t stocked n ready for their 3 day journey. Kudos to the Forward n her crew n to all the rest who responded with the “Dedication&Commitment” that this great nation asks of you. THANK YOU for a job well done. Always remember our vets.

  9. sv Jammin' says:

    We celebrated Veterans Day this year aboard the USCGC Forward with 100 true heroes. They have chosen a career that may put them in harms’ way, and they carry out their duties with heads held high, backs braced to do what need to be done, and courage not often matched in the private sector. The crew left on a three hour training exercise aboard a boat that was getting ready for the ship yard. There was a shortage of spare parts, the heating system was not working, it was 60 degrees on board. Everyone shared what bedding and clothing they could find. Single parents made arrangements for their children to be picked up and cared for until their return many days later. How many of us can say we give this much of ourselves to our jobs? It was humbling to see them carry out this rescue mission on our behalf which allowed us to rest our heads tonight on land. Tonight I sent a special prayer for all our United States Coast Guards, but to me you are more than that, you are our United States Coast Guardian Angels on the sea. If there is anyone out there with the talent to write a song and dedicate it to the USCG or the service personnel of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Forward I sure would sing that song. Too often we take for granted the personal sacrifices made by those in professions that not only serve to keep us safe from harm, but daily accept that they are willing to put their own lives at risk for strangers. Guardian angels do live among us.
    We have been sailing the oceans for 30 years and this is the first time we have not been able to get to shore on our own. Once on land the Coast Guard conducted the safety inspection and we passed with 100%. Before leaving the boatyard our boat was thoroughly checked out. Sometime stuff happen…
    Sv Jammin’ Helen and Dave
    P.S. Our tow insurance company REFUSED to honor our 200 mile tow policy.

  10. Bruce Grieshaber says:

    Mr. Wishman- we lost our home, Ahimsa 4, in this storm. She had been surveyed by a Purdue graduate marine engineer with 30 years of experience. Her rigging had been re-surveyed one week before we left. You did not witness the months if preparation each boat made to be ready. You have no concept of all the safety measures that we took and time we spent with weather experts looking for the optimum weather window in which to be safe. You, sir, are a complete moron for making assumptions based on absolutely no facts. I would suggest that your logic would require everyone to pay the entire bill for any fire department responding to their house fire or the cost of any first responder attempting to save and protect our citizens. The incredible heroes of the USCG saved our lives because that is what we, as a compassionate people, have agreed to pay them to do through our tax dollars. We called for help only after an exhausting 72 hour fight to keep our home afloat. Perhaps if you find yourself someday in a burning house set afire by lightning, you will begin to understand what we went through and maybe, just maybe, realize how hurtful your comments have been.