Coast Guard, Puerto Rico Police work together to rescue 3 persons near Ponce

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter file photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric D. Woodall

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard and Puerto Rico Police combined efforts to rescue a man and two women from an overdue personal watercraft Sunday night, approximately two nautical miles off the coast of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a call at 9 p.m. Sunday from a 911 emergency operator, who notified the persons overdue were tourists who were not familiar with the area, and they were last seen transiting from “Caja de Muertos” island to “La Guancha” in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Watchstanders broadcasted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast (UMIB) to mariners in the area advising them to be on the lookout, and they launched a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to search. Watchstanders also coordinated efforts with Puerto Rico Emergency Management rescue teams and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action responding marine units.

At approximately 11p.m. Sunday, the crew of the Coast Guard helicopter sighted a disabled and adrift personal watercraft with three persons onboard. The Coast Guard aircrew proceeded to vector-in a Puerto Rico Police marine unit to their position. The police crew safely embarked a man and two women who were confirmed to be the persons rescue crews were searching for.

“This case was a great example of the effective teamwork and coordination that exists in Puerto Rico,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christopher McAndrew, Air Station Borinquen MH65 Dolphin aircraft commander. “The Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan analyzed the report and developed a search plan that placed the helicopter in the right place at the right time. A member of the helicopter aircrew, Aviation Survival Technician Chief Moises Rivera, spotted the vessel and people despite the extremely dark and poor search conditions. The Puerto Rico Police marine unit was directed to the vessel by the aircrew and they efficiently recovered all three persons and towed the vessel safely back to port. Never underestimate the importance of safety equipment when you are out on the ocean. Any type of visual signaling device, strobe light, flares, even the glow of a cell phone, would have aided in locating the vessel. Thankfully a family member contacted the authorities in time for local police and the Coast Guard to respond.”

The police crew transported the rescued persons and towed the personal watercraft to La Guancha, Puerto Rico.


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