Coast Guard ends search after 4 missing crewmen are located off Dominica

USCG File Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews responding to a 406 Megahertz Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alert ended their search for the four surviving crewmen of the sunken fishing vessel Nelson, after they were safely located Thursday morning by the Dominica Coast Guard off of island nation of Dominica.

The surviving crewmembers are Rob Matthews, 64; Kenneth Rudnik, 59; David Brown, 21; and Jeremy Donaldson, 21, U.S. citizens, who originally departed Port Canaveral, Fla. aboard the Nelson, with the unmanned fishing vessel Roamer in tow, enroute to the island of Grenada.

A Regional Coordination Center Watchstander in Fort-de-France, Martinique, reported to watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan that the Dominica Coast Guard had located the surviving crewmen safely onboard the fishing vessel Roamer and escorted them to the island.

“This is a great example of regional partner nations coordinating search and rescue efforts to ensure the well being of distressed mariners and their safety of life at sea,” said Capt. Eduardo Pino, Sector San Juan commander.

Upon their arrival to Dominica, Matthews reported to Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan that an explosion had occurred Tuesday aboard the Nelson that forced the crew to abandon ship aboard the vessel’s life raft and caused the vessel to sink. The surviving crew reportedly was able to cut the Nelson’s tow line and subsequently board the Roamer, which allowed them to safely transit to Dominica to receive assistance.

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a telephone call Tuesday from the Coast Guard’s District 7 Search and Rescue Center in Miami reporting the Nelson’s 406 EPIRB alert, approximately 130 nautical miles south of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Coast Guard Watchstanders initiated Enhanced Group Callings and Urgent Marine Information Broadcasts asking mariners to be on the lookout for the Nelson and the unreported crewmembers onboard. A Coast Guard rescue crew aboard an HU-25 Falcon Jet from Air Station Miami was launched Tuesday to initiate the search.

The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing was also diverted to the search area, where the crew located the Nelson’s life raft and EPIRB Wednesday afternoon, approximately 140 nautical miles south of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Coast Guard rescue crews searched aboard a Coast Guard Air Station Miami HU-25 Falcon Jet, a Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla. C-130 Hercules aircraft and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing and a Coast Guard Auxiliary Aircraft out of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Coast Guard rescue crews searched approximately 3,639 square nautical miles for the surviving crewmembers, an area approximately the size of Puerto Rico and the state of Connecticut.

The Dutch Regional Coordination Center in Curazao also coordinated an aircraft sortie by a Dutch Coast Guard dash-8 rescue crew to search for the Nelson’s crewmen, while the Venezuela Regional Coordination Center offered and rendered assistance to the search efforts upon notification.

Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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