Coast Guard assists the vessel Smoker II crew members 79 miles offshore Freeport, Texas

Coast Guard assists the vessel Smoker II crew members 79 miles offshore Freeport, Texas. MH-65 Dolphin Air Station Houston. HH-65C Dolphin. MH-65D Dolphin.
Archive image: a grounds crewman from Air Station Houston prepares an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter for an early morning flight.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Adam Eggers.

HOUSTON​ —​ The Coast Guard assisted seven mariners after their vessel, Smoker II, began taking on water 79 miles offshore Freeport, Texas, Wednesday.

At 10:29 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders were notified by the crew of the 51-foot Smoker II that they were taking on water. The vessel’s dewatering pumps were keeping up with the flow of water, but the vessel was now disabled and unable to get underway.​ Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast, diverted an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Beluga and launched a Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentry​ medium-range surveillance aircraft aircrew.​

Coast Guard assists the vessel Smoker II crew members 79 miles offshore Freeport, Texas. HC-144 Air Station Corpus Christi. HC-144 Ocean Sentry.
Archive image: an HC-144B Ocean Sentry, Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi’s newest addition, rests on an airstrip in Corpus Christi, Texas on Feb. 20, 2019. This upgraded aircraft contains improvements that will allow aircrews to gather and process surveillance information that can be transmitted to other platforms and units during flight.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Jessica Wright.

A good Samaritan responded to the urgent marine information broadcast and passed an additional dewatering pump to the crew of the Smoker II.​ ​

Once on scene, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Beluga launched a small boat crew who boarded the Smoker II to provide an additional dewatering pump. The USCGC Beluga placed the 51-foot vessel in tow.

At 6:48 p.m., the USCGC Beluga transferred the tow to a Station Freeport 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew who moored the Smoker II at Surfside Marina at 12:36 a.m.​

“Thankfully, these mariners were prepared for the unexpected,” said Lt. Cmdr. Caren Damon, search and rescue mission coordinator​ at Sector Houston-Galveston. “After realizing they were taking on water, the mariners donned lifejackets and quickly communicated with the Coast Guard the nature of their distress and their location. Our ability to render assistance is greatly increased when mariners make safety a priority. Multiple Coast Guard crews worked for more than 12 hours to ensure these mariners and their vessel made it home safely, but that positive​ outcome​ started​ with these mariner’s having all of their required safety gear onboard.”​ ​

Coast Guard assists the vessel Smoker II crew members 79 miles offshore Freeport, Texas. Coast Guard Cutter Beluga. USCGC Beluga.
Archive image: the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Beluga is an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat, built in 2000, and part of the Coast Guard’s Marine Protector Class of vessels.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Joseph P. Cirone, USCGAUX

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