SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A USCG MH-60T Jayhawk aircrew and the crew of the chemical tank ship Silver Dover rescue a sailor in distress Saturday morning in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 57 nautical miles southeast of Puerto Rico.
Assisted is an 80-year-old man, who was the sole passenger aboard the 44-foot sailing vessel Tao when the vessel lost steering and the boater lost the ability to simultaneously access the vessel’s compass and emergency tiller.
Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchstanders received a VHF-Channel 16 communication from the sailing vessel Tao at 1:45 a.m. Saturday reporting the distress and requesting assistance. The Coast Guard watchstanders established a communication schedule with the boater and issued a Marine Assistance Request Broadcast for any vessel traffic in the area that could render assistance.
Sector San Juan watchstanders later experienced broken communications followed by a complete loss of communication with the sailing vessel Tao. With expected sea state conditions deteriorating by the hour, the USCG watchstanders proceeded to transmit an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast to advise nearby vessel traffic of a possible distress and directed the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk rescue helicopter to locate the sailing vessel.
As search and rescue coordination efforts continued, the 600-foot Marshall Islands flagged chemical tank ship Silver Dover responded to the Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and diverted to render assistance. As the Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Medium-Range Recovery Helicopter arrived on scene, the tank ship Silver Dover came alongside the sailing vessel Tao and embarked the boater. The Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk MRR helicopter aircrew then proceeded to deploy their rescue swimmer aboard the sailing vessel Tao and activate a Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoy to maintain awareness of the vessel’s position and advise vessel traffic to be on the lookout for the unmanned sailing vessel.
The chemical tank ship Silver Dover reported the boater to be in good health and that he would remain aboard the tank ship until the ship reached its destination in Houston, Texas.
“This case highlights the well-known willingness of commercial shipping vessels such as the tank ship Silver Dover to divert from their regular routes to aid a fellow mariner,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kimberly Shadwick, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan Search and Rescue mission coordinator for the case. “We appreciate the coordination and response efforts of all the Coast Guard personnel and units who participated in this case and wish this boater a safe journey and reunification with his family and loved ones.”
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