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Coast Guard rescue 3 mariners on sailboat in Chincoteague Harbor

Coast Guard rescue 3 mariners on sailboat in Chincoteague Harbor
A rescue swimmer from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City rappels down to rescue three mariners stranded in Chincoteague Harbor, Virginia, Sept. 1, 2021.
The boat ran aground during severe weather in the area.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Ross Comstock.

CHINCOTEAGUE, Virginia.— Coast Guard crews rescue 3 mariners in Chincoteague Inlet after their sailboat ran aground during severe weather Wednesday afternoon. ​

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Virginia Command Center received notification of the distress at approximately 2:22 p.m. Wednesday afternoon and issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast.​

Sector Virginia also launched crews aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat and a 24-foot Special Purpose Craft–Shallow Water from Station Chincoteague and an aircrew aboard an MH-60T Jayhawk Medium-Range Recovery Helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City.

Upon arriving on scene, the boat crews were unable to navigate within 100 yards of the grounded sailboat due to unsafe conditions presented by the severe weather.

«Forecasted severe weather can put even the most experienced mariners at risk,” said Ensign Wyatt Nelson, a watchstander at Sector Virginia’s Command Center who helped coordinate the rescue. “It’s important for people to check the local marine forecast before going out on the water to ensure they are making risk-based decisions to stay safe and to make sure they have the proper safety equipment on board should circumstances on the water worsen.”

The mariners were hoisted to safety by the aircrew on the MH-60T Jayhawk rescue helicopter and transported to Wallops Island. No serious injuries have been reported.​

Hoist footage from the MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City as the aircrew rescue three mariners stranded on an aground sailboat in Chincoteague Harbor, Virginia, Sept. 1, 2021.
The boaters had experienced adverse weather when the boat became stranded.
U.S. Coast Guard video.

“This afternoon’s rescue could not have been possible without the coordination of several Coast Guard units,” said Chief Petty Officer Ross Comstock, Officer in Charge of Station Chincoteague. “While we were fortunate that the boat stayed together long enough to effect the rescue, the distressed mariners were prepared with life jackets, which most certainly helped the rescue swimmer to get them from the boat to the helicopter safely.”


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