Coast Guard air and surface crews rescued a Russian, a Kazakh and four Uzbek men Thursday night from a distressed sailing vessel near Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
The six survivors were traveling aboard the 35-foot sailing vessel Sojourner in international waters east of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, when their vessel reportedly started taking on water.
“Thanks to the skill and professionalism of the crews of Winslow Griesser and Air Station Borinquen, we were able to rescue six lives under extremely challenging circumstances,” said Lt. Ben Williamsz, Winslow Griesser commanding officer. “This case highlights the dangers of putting to sea and the vital importance carrying and maintaining all required safety equipment.”
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan, received a mayday call at 7:04 p.m. Thursday via a VHF Channel-16 transmission from the vessel Sojourner, which was relayed from a Rescue 21 tower in Puerto Rico. From the transmission, watchstanders identified the general location of the distress, and they immediately diverted a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter and the Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser to search for the sailing vessel and find the boaters.
Shortly thereafter, the Coast Guard helicopter and the cutter Winslow Griesser arrived on scene with the sailing vessel Sojourner. The Coast Guard aircrew lowered their rescue swimmer to the sailing vessel to assess the situation and the condition of the boaters, while the Winslow Griesser launched the cutter’s Over the Horizon small boat to come alongside the vessel.
The Coast Guard rescue swimmer confirmed the sailing vessel Sojourner lost its sails and steering and had flooded up to the deck plate and cabin level, and that the vessel was also equipped with flares and lifejackets.
The crew of the Winslow Griesser cutter boat, with the assistance of the rescue swimmer, embarked the survivors and transferred them to the safety of the cutter.
“We were able to find this vessel by homing in on their VHF radio mayday calls. Everyone on board had a life jacket, and they knew how to use the boat’s emergency equipment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jacob London, Air Station Borinquen MH-60T Jayhawk pilot for the case. “These mariners were well prepared, and that allowed us to quickly get this crew to safety in challenging wind and sea conditions.”
Following the rescue, the Coast Guard aircrew recovered its rescue swimmer and returned to Air Station Borinquen.
Cutter Winslow Griesser transported the survivors to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Customs and Border Protection authorities received them and transported them to the Luis Munoz Marin International airport, where they are being assisted with further immigration processing.
The Coast Guard Cutter Winslow Griesser is a 154-foot fast response cutter homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Rescue 21 is the Coast Guard’s advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system, was created to better locate mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea and on navigable rivers. By harnessing state-of-the-market technology, Rescue 21 enables the Coast Guard to execute its search and rescue missions with greater agility and efficiency.