Coast Guard locates lost diver near Pensacola, Fla.

MOBILE, Ala. – The Coast Guard located a diver approximately 20 miles south of Pensacola, Fla., in the Gulf of Mexico, Sunday, after he was reported missing.

Rescued was Rodney Johnson.

Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received notification from a commercial dive vessel, the Starbuck, at approximately 1:45 p.m., Sunday, that one of its divers was overdue from a 20-minute dive.

The Coast Guard Sector Mobile command center diverted an HC-144 aircraft from Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile to search for the diver. The HC-144 aircraft and crew located Johnson in the water three miles from the Starbuck at approximately 2:15 p.m.

“The Starbuck called us on channel 16, which was vey useful because the dive boat, aircraft and the cutter could all coordinate on it,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Carlin, an operations unit controller for Sector Mobile.

The HC-144 dropped two life rafts to Johnson and directed the dive vessel to the position. The Starbuck then recovered Johnson safely, who was reported to be fatigued but in good condition.

A Coast Guard 41-foot utility boat (UTB) and crew from Coast Guard Station Pensacola and the Coast Guard Cutter Bonito, an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in Pensacola, assisted in the search for the diver.

The Coast Guard urges all mariners to keep a functioning marine-band radio on board their vessel. Marine-band radios are more reliable than cell phones due to battery life and limited coverage area.

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