13 rescued after fishing vessel, boxship collide off Virginia

(PORTSMOUTH, Va.) — The U.S. Coast Guard and two good Samaritans rescued 13 people from a sinking commercial fishing vessel Friday approximately 63 miles southeast of Chincoteague, Va.

Watch standers with Coast Guard Sector Virginia received a mayday call at approximately 2 a.m. from the 115-foot commercial fishing vessel Tremont, stating they were reportedly involved in a collision with the 1,000-foot Panamanian-flagged containership MSC Rita. The Tremont crew also reported they were sinking with 13 people aboard and they were abandoning the vessel.

The watch standers issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and an HC-130 Hercules airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.,  a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Chinoteague, and diverted the Coast Guard cutter Rollin Fritch to assist.

The good Samaritan vessels R/V Atlantis and motor vessel Drystan also arrived on scene to assist. Atlantis launched its small boat to transfer 12 Tremont crewmembers to Drystan. The helicopter crew hoisted the Tremont captain from the sinking vessel.

The fishing vessel Tremont takes on water Friday after reportedly colliding with the containership MSC Rita 63 miles southeast of Chincoteague, Va. U.S. Coast Guard photo

“Safety of life at sea is the Coast Guard’s top priority,” said Capt. Jennifer Stockwell, commander of Sector Virginia. “These are the life-saving missions for which we train each and every day. While this morning’s events were unfortunate, 13 people were rescued from an extremely perilous situation. The combined efforts of good Samaritans and Coast Guard response assets demonstrates a selfless commitment to others.”

The Tremont crewmembers were transferred to the motor lifeboat and taken to the station with no reported injuries. The fishing vessel captain was taken to Coast Guard Sector Virginia with no reported injuries.

The cause of the collision is being investigated.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Rich Miller