Coast Guard rescues survivor of boat explostion after receiving EPIRB distress signal

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cushing rescued a man aboard a life raft Sunday morning after his vessel caught on fire, exploded and sunk 20 nautical miles south of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

The survivor is a resident of Cape May, N.J., 45, who was traveling alone aboard the 71-foot wooden fishing trolley Doris Jean and was reportedly transporting farm equipment from Jacksonville, Fla. to Dominica, when he was forced to abandon his vessel due to a fire onboard. The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.

Coast Guard Atlantic Area controllers in Portsmouth, Va. received a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signal from the Doris Jean Sunday morning and relayed the information to Coast Guard Sector San Juan Joint Rescue Sub Center controllers.

Sector San Juan controllers immediately launched an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, diverted the Cushing to the scene and transmitted an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast (UMIB) to advise vessel traffic in the area of the ongoing distress. The crewmen aboard the tank ship Tarantella responded to the Coast Guard UMIB and reported to controllers that they could see black smoke in the vicinity of the distress. The Tarantella arrived on scene with the distressed vessel on fire and located the survivor safely aboard the Doris Jean’s life raft. The Cushing arrived afterwards and safely embarked the survivor from the life raft and transported him to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The survivor did not require medical attention and was released upon arriving to the Port of Mayaguez.

“This was a great response due to the fact that the survivor had a 406Mhz EPIRB onboard his vessel,” said Jaime Balzac, Sector San Juan controller, the distress signal transmitted by the EPIRB was received by the Coast Guard and the EPIRB had been properly registered, which allowed controllers to confirm the vessel and owner’s information quickly and coordinate the rescue of the survivor.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Cushing is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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