Stock Image of a 29-foot Response Boat from Station Philadelphia underway in the Delaware River.
PORTSMOUTH, Va. ─ The Coast Guard rescued four people Sunday after their 12-foot vessel became disabled and adrift near Chester Island, Gloucester County, New Jersey.
The owner and operator of the aluminum vessel contacted watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay command center to report their vessel was disabled near Chester Island with four people aboard. They said they were not wearing lifejackets and two of the people aboard were teenagers, ages 14 and 18.
Coast Guard Station Philadelphia launched a 29-foot Response Boat crew to assist, but shoal water prevented the rescue crew from reaching the disabled vessel. Gloucester Fire and Police Department personnel also deployed to help with their shallow water vessel but were unable to reach the adrift vessel.
After the vessel drifted into deeper water, the Coast Guard took the vessel with four people aboard into a side tow and transferred them to Golden Point Marina in Essington, Pennsylvania.
Once on shore, it was discovered that the vessel was unregistered, had no hull identification number and no life jackets or sound producing device.
“Fortunately, these four people made it safely back to shore, but they were incredibly lucky,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Zangle, the search and rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay. “Not having life jackets or a reliable means of communication aboard their disabled vessel could have easily turned their voyage into a tragedy. To meet Coast Guard requirements, and ensure the safety of your friends and family, a recreational vessel must have a Coast Guard approved lifejacket aboard for each person.”
Zangle also emphasized that it’s critical to have a reliable marine radio aboard your vessel. Cell phones are not recommended due to spotty service and the inevitable dead battery.
All recreational boaters are encouraged to get a vessel safety check and take a boating safety course. Information is available at uscgboating.org .