After receiving a report that a vessel was on fire in Louisiana’s Chandeleur Sound early Monday, the Coast Guard scrambled a rescue helicopter to save the passengers.
Coast Guard watchstandards directed the launch of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station New Orleans at 2:36 a.m. Monday. They arrived at 3:52 a.m. and deployed a rescue swimmer, who helped hoist four people off the disabled passenger boat Grand Sun, according to Coast Guard spokesman Public Affairs 3rd Class Travis Magee.
The helicopter transported them back to Air Station New Orleans, where paramedics rushed them to a local hospital.
A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Venice sailed to the charred vessel to chart any environmental pollution, but reported none, Magee said.
A private contractor will tow the Grand Sun back to shore, he added.
Images released by the Coast Guard appeared to show that the Grand Sun suffered major damage to its aluminum hull, with a gap burned along the starboard beam, and black heat and smoke marks running up the deck.
The port side also appeared to be scorched, but seemed to have experienced less structural damage.
Magee said that the mishap is under investigation.
Online records show that the Grand Sun is licensed to transport both people and cargo on the Mississippi River and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway by Scobel Marine, Inc. in Belle Chase, Louisiana.
Contacted by Navy Times, officials at Scobel Marine identified themselves as part of Y & S Marine.
They declined comment on the Grand Sun blaze, but the company’s web page indicates its Breaux’s Bay Craft vessel was equipped with multiple extinguishers and a 50-foot fire hose.
Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.