The crew of the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Co. ferry Grand Republic rescued three people after their 17-foot research boat capsized near Tongue’s Point in Bridgeport, Conn., on Oct. 24.
The Coast Guard received a mayday call at 1801 from a Good Samaritan vessel saying three people were in the water clinging to an overturned boat. The Good Samaritan vessel was engaged in towing and unable to come to their aid. Grand Republic, which was two miles away, heard the call and responded.
The 300-foot ferry, under the command of Capt. Ed O’Neill, arrived on the scene within minutes and maneuvered into position to shield the overturned boat from wind and waves. The crew of the ferry launched one of its lifeboats and plucked the three survivors from the 59° water.
The survivors were then transferred to a Bridgeport Harbor Police boat, which took them to the Bridgeport ferry terminal. There the survivors were met by emergency medical personnel and transported to a local hospital. They were treated for hypothermia and released.
The entire incident lasted only 25 minutes, from mayday call to rescue, according to Lt. j.g. Joan Pavlish, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound.
The three people rescued were employees of the local power plant and had been collecting water samples when the line from their sampling equipment snagged and overturned the boat. At the time of the capsizing the wind was reported to be blowing 25 knots.
O’Neill and his crew and the Bridgeport Police Department were honored for their rescue efforts in an Oct. 26 ceremony at the ferry terminal. Rear Adm. Timothy S. Sullivan, commander of the First District Coast Guard, presented the awards.