The Coast Guard rescued a cruise ship passenger in the Gulf of Mexico on the evening of Thanksgiving after the individual fell overboard the evening before.
The unnamed 28-year-old man fell off the Carnival Valor cruise ship hours after it departed from New Orleans on its way to Mexico and was reported missing to Coast Guard officials at roughly 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to a service press release.
A Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew rescued him at 8:25 p.m. that night, 20 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana.
For the search, Coast Guard officials in New Orleans also deployed a 45-foot response boat from Venice, Louisiana and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew from the service’s aviation training center in Mobile, Alabama.
“We are beyond grateful that this case ended with a positive outcome,” Lt. Seth Gross, a Sector New Orleans search and rescue mission coordinator, said in the release.
“It took a total team effort from Coast Guard watchstanders, response crews, and our professional maritime partners operating in the Gulf of Mexico to locate the missing individual and get him to safety.”
The Coast Guard shared a video of the dramatic rescue on Twitter.
The Jayhawk aircrew hoisted the man onto the helicopter and then brought him to emergency medical services at the New Orleans Lakefront Airport, the release said. He was last reported to be in stable condition.
Matt Lupoli, a spokesperson for Carnival, told CBS News that the man was at a bar with his sister on Wednesday night, and that he disappeared after leaving to use the restroom.
“This is an exceptionally rare case,” Ryan Graves, a petty officer in public affairs with the 8th District, told The Washington Post. “It is really nothing short of a Thanksgiving miracle to be able to pick somebody up after that long in the water without any sort of flotation device.”
This is not, however, the first time the Coast Guard has responded to similar incidents like this. In April, the Coast Guard suspended a search for a man who went overboard from Carnivals’ Mardi Gras ship, according to a service statement.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media