Coast Guard rescues two men from sinking vessel off Clearwater

CLEARWATER, Fla. - A small boat crew launched from the Coast Guard Cutter Alligator simultaneously work to pump water from a recreational vessel, while towing it toward Clearwater, Feb. 13, 2011.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Marc Benson, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Cutter Alligator.

A Coast Guard Cutter Alligator small boat crew works to dewater a boat while towing it toward Clearwater. US Coast Guard photo by Lt. Marc Benson.

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Coast Guard rescued two men from a sinking vessel approximately 10 miles west of Clearwater, Sunday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., received a report of a small recreational vessel in distress, approximately 10 miles west of Clearwater Beach at 3:50 p.m., Sunday.

Two commercial charter fishing vessels from Clearwater, the Gulf Queen and Super Queen, reported they were coming to the assistance of two men bailing water aboard an approximately 16-foot recreational vessel, and requested Coast Guard assistance.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alligator, an 87-foot ship stationed in St. Petersburg, was diverted from patrol at 3:52 p.m., and headed toward the distressed vessel. Arriving onscene at 4:12 p.m., the cutter launched a small boat crew with a dewatering pump to assist the two men, Justin Bailey and Charlie Schumaker, aboard their sinking vessel.

Transferring Bailey and Schumaker to the cutter’s small boat, Alligator crewmembers then took the recreational vessel in tow toward Clearwater, while continuing to dewater the vessel.

Coast Guard Station Sand Key launched a crew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat Small at 4:31 p.m., meeting the tow operation nine miles west of Clearwater. After relieving Alligator’s boatcrew of the tow at 5 p.m., and transferring Bailey and Schumaker, Sand Key’s boatcrew continued to bail water from the small boat, which was discovered to have a cracked hull, and safely brought the vessel and two men back to Clearwater Beach.

Bailey and Schumaker had reportedly left their craft to go scuba diving and realized their boat was taking on water after surfacing. No injuries have been reported.

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