PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard rescued 4 Canadian mariners Saturday from an overturned 60-foot catamaran, about 140 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina.
The Coast Guard 5th District Command Center in Portsmouth, Va. received a signal from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) at 12:18 p.m. from the Moon Dragon, a yacht that charters between the Mid-Atlantic and the Virgin Islands.
An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City launched in response to the EPIRB signal. Once on scene, the crew spotted the overturned vessel and a covered life raft. The survivors in the raft used a radio to contact the overhead HC-130 crew and request assistance.
The Coast Guard launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City and directed them to the location. Once on scene, the Jayhawk crew safely hoisted all 4 people aboard, returned to Air Station Elizabeth City, and transferred them to an awaiting crew from Pasquotank-Camden EMS. No injuries were reported.
The catamaran crew indicated that while at sea, both their port and starboard side hatches broke leading to catastrophic flooding which forced them to abandon ship around noon.
“The ocean is unpredictable and unforgiving, and this case represents perfectly the value of being prepared at sea,” said Petty Officer First Class Austin Lang, operations unit controller.
He said the EPIRB, a proper radio, and a functional life raft were all major factors in the success of the rescue.
“These sailors had the right gear on board, it worked, they knew how to use it, and it’s because of that we were able to find them and bring them home safely.”
The Moon Dragon remains partially submerged and the Coast Guard is issuing a hazard-to-navigation safety broadcast to notify mariners transiting in the area.
On scene weather was reported as winds of 35 miles per hour and seas at 11 to 12 feet.