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sail-world.com -- Another very modern rescue in the Atlantic

Another very modern rescue in the Atlantic    
Mon, 28 Jan 2013

The world of the successful modern rescue has to be a symphony of modern electronics and international cooperation. This week three sailors on a yacht, dismasted almost half way between Europe and America, were rescued after their distress signal was picked up by satellite. The registration of their EPIRB showed as Polish. Then through the good services of AMVER?nid=106031, the US Coastguard located a Barbudan ship who became the Good Samaritan, and the three sailors are now on their way to Norway, the ship's destination.

The good Samaritan crew, aboard the motor vessel Winona, rescued two people from the dismasted sailing vessel, a Polish-registered Tiburon-36, and one from the water, all safely and with no reported injuries.

Watchstanders from the first Coast Guard District command center were notified from the GEOS (satellite) command center that an SOS transmission was received from the Tiburon-36. A GEOS representative spoke with the emergency contact on the beacon's registration, the spouse of the skipper in Poland, but stated there was a language barrier.

The first Coast Guard District command center quickly found a Polish translator and arranged a conference call with the contact to gather information that would help identify the vessel and assess the safety equipment available to the men aboard.

The command center then contacted the Coast Guard Atlantic Area command center in Norfolk, Va., and requested air support from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

An airborne Coast Guard C-130J from Elizabeth City was sent to the position provided by the tiburon-36’s working GEOS radio beacon. A watchstander from the first Coast Guard District in charge of the search and rescue identified several vessels in the area utilizing the AMVER system, a voluntary search and rescue system that merchant vessels participate in to assist other mariners in distress. Several vessels responded to the assistance request and the Winona was identified as the closest vessel in the vicinity of the yacht through the aircraft's long-range identification and tracking (LRIT) system.

The crew of the Winona responded to the request for assistance. With the help of the C-130J crew and constant communication with the first Coast Guard District command center, they were able to locate and recover the three people in aggressive seas using side ladders, liferings and rescue lines.

'Finding ways to communicate was instrumental in determining who could help that far out at sea,' said Petty Officer third Class Stephen Leavitt, the operational unit chair in charge of the search and rescue at the first Coast Guard District. 'It was so important that their GEO spot worked so we could send the right Coast Guard assets and ask nearby good Samaritans to respond as soon as possible to pull the three men to safety.

He added a reminder: 'When embarking on a long voyage it is important to have the proper safety and communication equipment on board so others can efficiently locate and communicate with distressed mariners.'

Weather at the time of the incident was reported as 28-34 mph winds and 15 to 20-foot seas.

All three crewmembers are in stable medical condition and will remain aboard the Winona en route to Finnsnes, Norway.

by US Coastguard/Sail-World Cruising



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