Coast Guard rescues 2 in the Mona Passage

Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Ferdinando

Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Lisa Ferdinando

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The crew of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter rescued two men from a sinking vessel Tuesday in the Mona Passage.

Rescued are two U.S. citizens, who reportedly were the only persons aboard a 27-foot Robalo, when the vessel became disabled and began taking on water.

“This case was an excellent example of teamwork on the high seas,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class José Chacón, MH-60T Jayhawk flight mechanic and aircrew for the case. “The VHF Channel 16 distress call from the vessel relayed an accurate position, while the Harmony of the Seas cruise ship diverted from their course to assist. Once on-scene, the vessel was listing, and the stern was barely above water. Fortunately, we were able to safely hoist the two men as the vessel was about to go under.”

Watch standers at Sector San Juan received a VHF radio Channel 16 distress call at 10:07 a.m. Tuesday, reporting two people aboard a disabled vessel taking on water, approximately 26 nautical miles southwest of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

Watch standers directed the launch of an Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon. Watch standers also issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast UMIB to alert marine traffic in the area. The Harmony of the Seas cruise ship responded to the UMIB and diverted to the scene. The cruise ship was able to establish communications and visual contact with the vessel in distress and remained on scene monitoring the situation as rescue units arrived.

Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard aircrew located the two men aboard the vessel that was listing starboard and later capsized. The Coast Guard aircrew deployed their rescue swimmer to the vessel and completed multiple hoists from the water using a rescue basket to bring the survivors safely aboard the aircraft.

The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen where they were assisted by awaiting Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations officers. No injuries were reported.

Channel 16 VHF (156.8 MHz) is the marine international distress, safety and calling channel. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.

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