A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued two fishermen Dec. 19 after their boat capsized 34 miles off Charleston, S.C., as watchstanders at the Charleston command center used direction finding technology to determine the vessel’s approximate location.
The watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Charleston command center received a mayday call at 10:30 p.m., via VHF-FM channel 16 from a crew member aboard the fishing vessel stating their vessel was sinking, and directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Charleston boat crew and an Air Station Savannah HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to assist.
The helicopter crew on arrival spotted a life raft with two people aboard, and the rescue swimmer assisted in hoisting the two men. They were flown to the Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital for further medical care.
“Having a marine-grade radio was a major factor in this rescue and having the proper lifesaving equipment onboard furthermore assisted in saving the mariner's lives,” said Lt.(j.g.) Colin Morgan, a Coast Guard Sector Charleston command duty officer. "We want to remind all mariners to check the weather and perform a safety equipment check before going out on the water."
“This case and its favorable outcome is a testament of the diligence and training of our Sector Charleston watchstanders and Air Station Savannah aircrews,” said Lt. Michael Allen, Coast Guard Sector Charleston search and rescue mission coordinator. “The mariners were able to provide us with a chance to find them by using their marine-grade radio and we utilized our search and rescue technology to pinpoint their last known location that was provided to our aircrew."
On-scene weather conditions were reported to be 17-knot winds with 5 to 6-foot seas.