Coast Guard rescues 6 boaters from grounded sailing vessel off St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Rescue crews from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico hoisted six boaters to safety Monday, after their 48-foot sailing vessel Aurora ran aground on the rocks just off Coral Bay in Saint John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Rescued were three men and three women, U.S. citizens, who reportedly chartered the Aurora in Saint Thomas for a recreational sailing trip in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Watchstanders in Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a MAY DAY radio call Monday afternoon from the grounded sailing vessel communicating the distress. A boat crew from Coast Guard Boat Forces Saint Thomas, responded to the distress aboard a 29-foot Response Boat Small II along with a Sea Tow salvage vessel from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two Coast Guard MH-65D rescue helicopters from Air Station Borinquen were also launched to deliver rescue assistance, while National Park Service Rangers deployed to the area by land.

The heavy sea state did not allow for the distressed boaters to be removed from the rocks by the responding boat crews, as the Aurora was hard aground on the rocks taking six to seven foot waves from the stern.

The first Coast Guard helicopter moved in to recover the boaters. After closely assessing the situation, the Coast Guard helicopter crew deployed their rescue swimmer to assist the boaters, who were all wearing life jackets, into the water and swim them away from the rocks and the grounded vessel. Five of the boaters were hoisted via a rescue basket aboard the Coast Guard helicopter, while the rescue swimmer and the remaining boater were recovered by the Sea Tow vessel. The Coast Guard helicopter transferred four boaters to National Park Service Rangers on land at the scene, while one of the boaters with a foot injury was transported to the airport in Saint Thomas, where she was received by awaiting Emergency Medical Service personnel. The second Coast Guard helicopter recovered the rescue swimmer and remaining boater from the Sea Tow vessel and transferred the boater to National Park Service Rangers.

“This was an amazing showcase on Coast Guard search and rescue capability, team work and interagency coordination,” said Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence Gaillard, Air Station Borinquen MH-65D Dolphin helicopter aircraft commander. “Coast Guard rescue crews rescued six people from a damaged sailing vessel on the rocks, and rescue swimmer Petty Officer First Class Matthew Baynes did a great job in coordinating rescue efforts with two Coast Guard MH-65 aircraft.”

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  1. Lawson W. Starnes says:

    Thank you USCG team for rescuing my cousins from the sailing vessel near Coral Bay, St. John, Virgin Islands today. I am thankful for you. If pictures of the rescue are available, I would like to have.

  2. David and Ellen Cooper says:

    One of the six boaters was our daughter and we want to thank our U.S. Coast Guard from the bottom of our hearts for their professionalism and kindness during the rescue operation.