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Coast Guard crews rescue 4 sailors near Dry Tortugas

A Coast Guard MH-65E Dolphin aircrew and a USCGC crew rescue four sailors near Dry Tortugas
A Coast Guard MH-65E Dolphin aircrew and a USCGC crew rescue four sailors near Dry Tortugas.
Archive image: A Coast Guard MH-65E Dolphin aircrew from Air Station Miami performs a search and rescue demonstration for members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in Miami, Florida, Sept. 22, 2023.
The JCOC was established in 1948 and is the Department of Defenses’s oldest and most prestigious public liaison program.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Estrada.

MIAMI — A Coast Guard MH-65E Dolphin aircrew and a Cutter crew rescue four sailors off a sinking sailing vessel south of Dry Tortugas National Park early Monday morning. February 19, 2024.

The individuals were rescued amid heavy seas and weather caused by a passing storm after an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) was activated on board their vessel.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 7th District Command Center and Sector Key West received the distress signal and diverted the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Charles David, Jr. towards the sailing vessel position, approximately 35 nautical miles south of the Dry Tortugas. A Coast Guard Air Station Miami MH-65 Dolphin Short-Range Recovery Helicopter aircrew was also launched to scene to assist.

The MH-65E Dolphin and the USCGC crews reached the sinking sailing vessel shortly after midnight on Monday. The helicopter rescue swimmer was lowered to the sailing vessel, where it was determined that one passenger aboard required emergency medical attention. However, heavy seas prevented the SRR Helicopter aircrew from being able to hoist those aboard directly to the aircraft. The crew of the Cutter Charles David, Jr., launched a small boat to transfer all sailors from the sailing vessel and bring them onboard the Cutter, where the passenger requiring emergency treatment was then hoisted to the MH-65E Dolphin helicopter now in medevac mission.

Once the sick sailor was embarked onboard, the rescue helicopter aircrew flown to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West for further treatment. The other three people were brought back to Key West aboard the Coast Guard Cutter.

“We were fortunate to be able to rescue four people and bring them to shore safely, today,” said Capt. Jason Ingram, Sector Commander at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West. “These were extremely challenging conditions to conduct a rescue operation in. I urge all mariners to frequently check their safety gear and monitor weather forecasts from reliable sources like the National Weather Service. Four lives were saved today due to the quick actions from our Coast Guard crews and because the mariners had an EPIRB onboard that pinpointed the distress location.”

The vessel the four people were rescued from remains adrift at sea. Sector Key West has issued a Special Marine Information Broadcast alerting boaters in the area to the adrift vessel.


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