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Press Release | Feb. 2, 2024

Coast Guard rescues 2 French boaters from disabled sailing vessel, approximately 147 miles south of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard Cutters Vigilant and Richard Dixon crews rescued two boaters from a disabled sailing vessel, Thursday, in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 147 nautical miles south of Puerto Rico.

Rescued are French citizens Robert Punginier, 77, and Marie Claude Durand, 50, who reportedly were disabled and adrift for over seven days.

Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector San Juan received a communication from the Coast Guad Cutter Vigilant Thursday morning, reporting the sighting of two red flares and one red smoke signaling flare launched from the sailing vessel Orion. Cutter Vigilant diverted to assist as the vessel Orion appeared to be disabled with a torn sail. The Vigilant crew provided water to the boaters and confirmed the vessel Orion’s engine was not working and that mechanical problems prevented the vessel from being sailed manually. Coast Guard watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon to render assistance.  

Once on-scene, cutter Richard Dixon’s crew safely embarked the boaters, who voluntarily accepted to receive Coast Guard assistance. One of the boaters showed signs of extreme fatigue, while the other appeared to be in good health. Cutter Richard Dixon transported the boaters to the French Island of Martinque, where they were received and assisted by local authorities.  

“Our crews are glad they assisted in bringing these boaters to safety,” said Adam Johns, Coast Guard Sector San Juan Search and Rescue mission coordinator for the case. “The boaters showed good discipline and timing in using flares to signal their distress. A VHF-marine radio and a 406Mhz Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon are also critical for boaters to communicate any emergency.”

Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Port Canaveral, Fla., while the cutter Richard Dixon is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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