Three fisherman were rescued early Tuesday morning by the Mayport, Florida-based guided-missile cruiser Hué City 63 miles off the coast of Georgia after a distress signal was received by Coast Guard headquarters in Miami at about 3:30 a.m.
”[Coast Guard] Watchstanders released an enhanced group calling message and launched a Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma crew to the vessel’s last known position,” the Coast Guard 7th District’s release said.
But it was the Navy who got to the 42-foot fishing vessel Barbara Lynn first.
Responding to the Coast Guard’s call to ships in the area, Hué City’s Commanding Officer Capt. Jake Douglas ordered the ship to make way to the Barbara Lynn’s last known position while the crew prepared their rescue swimmer.
It only took the cruiser about 20 minutes to arrive at the vessel’s last reported position.
“The crew of the USS Hue City...when within approximately 1 mile of the last known position of the distress, reported seeing orange flares, flashing lights and located a raft with three fishermen aboard surrounded by debris,” the Coast Guard release said.
Hué City’s rescue swimmer, Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Nathan Andrade, a native of Stockton, California, swam to the life raft to assist as Hue City maneuvered nearby.
Andrade then harnessed each fisherman, while the crew lifted the survivors on board using litters.
“When I woke up to the call that someone needed to be rescued, I was just praying to God that everyone was safe,” said Andrade. “Thanks to great teamwork from the boatswains mates and everyone else willing to help, we were able to save everyone and bring them on board safely.”
From start to finish, the whole rescue took roughly two hours.
There were no significant injuries, but the trio of rescued mariners were transferred to Naval Station Mayport, then to a local facility, for evaluations.
“This case highlights the close cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Navy as well as the importance of having the right safety equipment on board,” said Lt Cmdr. Ryan Kelley, the Coast Guard’s 7th District Public Affairs Officer. “The Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, flares and flashing light, without question, helped lead rescue crews directly to their location to get them home safely.”
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.