Bulker crew helps rescue boaters adrift for 21 days

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The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Donald Horsley combined efforts with the Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Skiathos to rescue three stranded boaters Friday in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 75 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.

Rescued are a man and two women, claiming to be Dominican nationals from the Caribbean island of Dominica, who were stranded at sea for 21 days after their 20-foot boat Papa Fish became disabled and adrift on a trip from Dominica to Martinique that started May 19.

Coast Guard watch standers in Sector San Juan received initial notification at 7:19 p.m. Thursday from the crew of the 886-foot Skiathos, who reported locating a boat with three people onboard waving their arms for assistance.

The crew of a patrolling U.S. Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air & Marine maritime patrol aircraft located Papa Fish and confirmed there were three people onboard signaling for assistance.

Coast Guard watch standers proceeded to launch a Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft from Air Station Miami, a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen, and diverted Donald Horsley to deliver assistance and rescue the boaters. The crew of the Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene with Papa Fish and vectored in Donald Horsley on its final approach to reach the stranded boaters.

Once alongside the vessel, the crew of Donald Horsley embarked the survivors who appeared to be dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise in good health.

"In this case, the excellent watch-standing by the bridge team of the Skiathos and coordination between marine and air rescue assets saved three lives," said Lt. Katherine Uslter, Coast Guard Cutter Horsely commanding officer. "The crew of the Horsley was happy to assist and grateful a tragedy at sea was able to be prevented."

"This is a perfect example of how the crew and captain of the bulk carrier Skiathos kept with the time honored traditions of mariners assisting those in peril at sea," said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Phipps, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Command Center chief. "Their ability to stay on scene until a capable surface asset arrived to enact the rescue was nothing short of heroic." 

The crew of Donald Horsley transported the survivors to Ponce, Puerto Rico, where they were received and assisted by awaiting Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations agents in the Port of Ponce.

Donald Horsley is a 154-foot fast response cutter home-ported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

By Professional Mariner Staff