Coast Guard nighttime rescue operation saves man from flooding, smoke-filled sailboat


CAPE MAY, N.J. (WAVY) — The U.S. Coast Guard released a video showing aircrews working to rescue a man from a sailboat who was trapped in a storm 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey on Friday night.

The man was traveling from North Carolina to New York when he was caught in stormy weather which caused a fire and flooding onboard his 25-foot sailboat.

The call came in via satellite phone to watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay’s command center at about 5:15 p.m. A crewmember onboard the Malta tanker Hellas Poseidon said they overheard a distress call on the radio.

The Hellas Poseidon crew then reported seeing smoke a few miles from where they were located. The tanker worked quickly to find the disabled sailboat that was taking on water after an electrical fire started, according to a statement released.

The heavy seas prevented the Hellas Poseidon crew from being able to help the man so they stayed with the sailboat until help arrived.

North Carolina Coast Guard base launched two aircraft to the scene, an HC-130 Hercules airplane and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.

The poor weather and choppy seas made it a difficult rescue and the Coast Guard could not suspend a swimmer and equipment directly onto the sailboat. They had the man swim out to meet the rescue swimmer and drop a lifejacket to him.

Both were safely lifted to the helicopter and returned to the base with no injuries.

“We would like to applaud the crew of the Hellas Poseidon. They not only quickly reported the distress call but were able to locate the sailboat and make sure the man was safe until we arrived,” said Chief Warrant Officer Dan Capestany, command duty officer during the case. “The actions of the Hellas Poseidon undoubtedly saved the man’s life. This sailor was lucky that someone heard his distress call since he was so far out in the open ocean. It demonstrates the need for proper safety equipment, amongst which are a registered EPIRB and life raft.”

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