Coast Guard rescues survivors of sunken vessel 100 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The crew of a Coast Guard MH-65 dolphin helicopter rescued two survivors aboard a life raft Saturday, after their sailing vessel sunk approximately 100 nautical miles south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico.

The survivors are an Austrian man and a Mexican woman, who were the only two passengers travelling aboard the U.S. flagged sailing vessel Victoria from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to the Republic of Panama.

The survivors were forced to abandon the 48-foot-single-mast sailing vessel after the Victoria reportedly began taking on water when it struck an unidentified submerged object, which destroyed the vessel’s rudder and caused the vessel to sink.

Coast Guard Watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) distress signal from the sailing vessel Victoria Saturday morning, approximately 100 nautical miles south of Mona Island Puerto Rico.

Sector San Juan controllers immediately launched a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark to the scene and conducted an Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) callout to advise vessel traffic in the area of the ongoing distress. A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla. C-130 aircraft was also diverted to scene to search for possible survivors as did the motor tanker Navigator Success that responded to the Coast Guard AMVER callout and diverted to the scene.

The crew of the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter located a life raft with two passengers onboard at approximately 7:30a.m. Saturday, approximately 100 nautical miles south of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, they deployed their rescue swimmer and hoisted the survivors safely onboard the aircraft.

The two survivors were rescued in good health and transported to Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla were they were transferred to U.S. Customs and Border Protection port entry officers.

“This was a great response due to the fact that survivors had a 406Mhz EPIRB onboard the vessel and life raft and used them properly,” said Lt. j.g. Fausto Veras, Sector San Juan controller. “The distress signals transmitted by the EPIRB were received by the Coast Guard and had been properly registered, allowing controllers to confirm the vessel’s information quickly and have knowledge of the survivors’ boating plan, which enabled their prompt rescue.”

The Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark is a 87-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

AMVER, sponsored by the United States Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond. AMVER’s mission is to quickly provide search and rescue authorities, on-demand, accurate information on the positions and characteristics of vessels near a reported distress.

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