Coast Guard aids OSV taking on water off Puerto Rico

(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) — The crew of a Coast Guard helicopter assisted the cargo vessel Sea Falcon as it was taking on water Saturday in the Caribbean Sea approximately 22 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.

Sea Falcon, a Vanuatu-flagged 121-foot offshore supply vessel (OSV), was transiting to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, with four people aboard while transporting two vehicles, construction materials, glass and one container with dry goods.

Coast Guard watch standers at Sector San Juan received a distress call from the master of Sea Falcon late Friday night reporting that there was a crack in the vessel’s hull. He estimated the rate of flooding was approximately 300 gallons per minute and said the crew was using dewatering pumps that were not keeping up with flooding in the bilge.

Rasheid Chambers/ photo

Watch standers issued an urgent marine information broadcast to alert nearby vessel traffic of the distress. They also directed the launch of a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter to provide rescue assistance on scene and notified local Puerto Rico Joint Force of Rapid Action marine units of the developing situation.

Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard helicopter arrived on scene with Sea Falcon and deployed the aircraft rescue swimmer aboard the vessel to assess the situation.

The rescue swimmer confirmed approximately 3 inches of water in the engine room due to a 3-inch crack in the vessel’s hull. Once the portable dewatering pump was set up, the rescue swimmer confirmed the water level decreased to about 2 inches.

The air crew then proceeded to recover their rescue swimmer and return to Air Station Borinquen. At 11:48 a.m., Sea Falcon confirmed the vessel’s safe arrival and mooring in Tortola.

“We are happy to assist the crew of the Sea Falcon, providing them with a dewatering pump to stem the flow of the leak,” said Lt. Travis Cox, Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk aircraft commander of the case. “Sector San Juan, Air Station Borinquen and the Sea Falcon crew worked well together and made this case seem routine.”

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Professional Mariner Staff