Coast Guard Rescues 5 After Long Night At Sea

MIAMI – The Coast Guard rescued five people 23 miles southwest of Cape Romano, Fla., Sunday, after their vessel began taking on water Saturday night.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday, a commercial salvage company had been assisting two vessels that had reportedly run out of gas.

Upon towing one of the vessels in, when the salvage company returned to tow the other vessel in they were unable to relocate the vessel and then notified the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard immediately launched an HU-25 Falcon jet from Air Station Miami and diverted the Cutter Dependable to begin searching.

The crew of the Falcon located a 25-foot vessel with one person aboard and dropped food, water and a VHF marine radio.

Upon establishing communication with the individual through the use of that radio, the person informed the Coast Guard that his vessel began taking on water last night and four people had decided to abandon the vessel around midnight.

The Falcon dropped the person a raft and immediately informed search and rescue coordinators at Sector St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Dependable launched its Miami deployed HH-65 helicopter to search the area for the missing four.

The helicopter crew searched until they located four people wearing life jackets in the water approximately one mile south of the boat just before 9 a.m.

The tired, but uninjured people were picked up by the Dependable’s small boat and taken back to the cutter.

A 33-foot rescue boat from Station Fort Myers, Fla., rendezvoused with the cutter and returned the people to the Caxambas Park Boat Ramp near Marco Island, Fla., where they had originally departed from.

“It is never a wise decision to leave your vessel while in distress,” said Sean Connett, the command duty officer for the Coast Guard’s Seventh District Command Center. “We are fortunate that the helicopter was able to locate the survivors in the water when their only survival equipment was floatation devices. These four survivors are very fortunate to be alive and should have never decided to leave their vessel or the fifth person behind.”

The Dependable is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Cape May, N.J.

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