Coast Guard responds to early season Nor’easter in New England

1st Coast Guard District News
BOSTON — Coast Guard rescue crews worked overnight and continue to respond this morning to multiple mariners in distress.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Southeast New England Command Center received notification that the 55-foot Sailing Vessel Swept Away was unable to lower it’s sails and lost all propulsion in Rhode Island Sound, Wednesday. The Swept Away had five people onboard their boat.

The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Tigershark was diverted to assist. Due to weather, the cutter could not place the sailing vessel in tow and requested the assistance of the 110-foot Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak.

Once on scene, the crew of the Sitkinak successfully placed the sailing vessel in tow and started making way to Newport, Rhode Island at 3-knots.

Watchstanders at the Sector Southeast New England Command Center received a call stating the 55-foot tugboat Karen Jean was taking on water, listing and was in danger of capsizing.

Approximately 30 minutes later, the tug sank in approximately 88 feet of water, near Point Judith, Rhode Island. All four crew members entered their life raft and transferred to the fishing vessel Merit. The tug was towing a 110-foot deck barge at the time and the barge is still attached with 775-feet of towline. The owner reported that another tugboat is underway to recover the barge and plans to salvage the tug.

The Coast Guard Cutter Sanibel from Woods Hole, Massachusetts; Cutter Tiger Shark from Newport, Rhode Island, Cutter Sitkinak from Bayonne, New Jersey, and Coast Guard Station Point Judith responded to the cases.

Reported weather on scene was 8-foot seas, 40-knot winds, and 61F-degrees Fahrenheit water temperature.

A Gale Warning remains in effect through Thursday evening in Rhode Island. A Gale Warning means winds of 34 to 47 knots are imminent or occurring. Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience or equipment seek safe Harbor prior to the onset of gale conditions. Throughout New England either Gale Warnings or Small Craft Advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service through Friday.

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