Rescue and recovery tales from around the country and beyond. In this edition, fishermen saving fishermen, a pair of difficult medevacs, a captain on trial for assault and more.

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

Three good Samaritan fishing boats rescued the crew of the 77-foot stern trawler Rose Marie when it caught fire on Friday, Aug. 24.

The Rose Marie was about 65 miles east of Chatham, Mass., when the fire started between noon and 12:30 p.m., according to Coast Guard officials. Crew members from the F/V Alexis Martina radioed the Coast Guard to report the fire.

The four crew members abandoned ship into a life raft and were picked up by the nearby F/V Seven Seas. They soon transferred to the F/V Gabby G, where they awaited the arrival of a tugboat.

None of the crew members was injured in the fire. The boat reportedly was having issues with its communication systems.

The fire burned itself out as the 270-foot Coast Guard cutter Legare monitored. A commercial salvage tug towed the boat and crew members to New Bedford.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Coast Guard.


A Coast Guard aircrew medevaced a 51-year-old man from the F/V Devotion about 34 miles southwest of Cordova, Alaska, on Aug. 4.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Anchorage received a relay call from the charter vessel Dan Ryan crew requesting a medevac for the man aboard the Devotion. He had sustained a head injury.

To facilitate a hoist to the helicopter, the injured fisherman was transferred to a nearby tug. The Jayhawk's aircrew safely hoisted the man and transported him to Cordova, where he was transferred to awaiting emergency medical services personnel.

"When we arrived to the scene, the fishing vessel was tied up to an offshore supply vessel, which made for a unique hoist," said Lt. Joe Chevalier, a Jayhawk pilot during the medevac. "Through the coordination of the duty flight surgeon, Sector Anchorage watchstanders and the Devotion crew, we were able to get the man to higher level care quickly."

Coast Guard aircrews transited more than 1,200 miles during a 17-hour medevac of a 27-year-old fisherman from the 116-foot F/V Patricia Lee, which was fishing 190 miles west of Dutch Harbor, on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

Coast Guard watchstanders received a report Monday evening from Patricia Lee's captain that a crewman had been hit in the head by a crab pot. Officials at the District 17 command center immediately directed the launch of two Air Station Kodiak aircrews, a Coast Guard corpsman and a Hercules aircrew.

A Coast Guard Hercules aircrew transits alongside a Jayhawk aircrew during a long-range medevac near Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

A helicopter crew safely transported the injured fisherman from the Patricia Lee to awaiting air ambulance personnel in Dutch Harbor for further care. The man was reported to have been in stable condition.

“Alaska presents a unique set of difficulties, one primarily being the remote locations of the cases,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Frommherz. “It makes conducting medevacs hundreds of miles offshore a coordinated team effort, and we are fortunate to have such dynamic crews ready to work together and assist at a moment’s notice.”

Gulf & South Atlantic

Coast Guard crews rescued three fishermen from a life raft 40 miles east of Port Isabel, Texas, after the 69-foot shrimper Master D caught fire on Aug. 31.

The 68-foot Master D sank after burning for two days near Port Isabel, Texas.

An EPIRB signal from the boat alerted the Coast Guard, which dispatched cutter Coho to the location. The crew of the cutter located the life raft and rescued the fishermen. There were no injuries reported.

The Master D sank at a depth of about 380 feet after burning for two days. An estimated 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 400 gallons of lube oil were onboard.

The Coast Guard opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in anticipation of mitigating any pollution threat.

West Coast & Pacific

When the 56-foot F/V Pacific Quest ran aground near Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, Calif., on Aug. 12, a slew of agencies responded, concerned about the maximum potential capacity of 1,200 gallons of diesel aboard.

The incident was located near Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

The captain of the Pacific Quest contacted Coast Guard watchstanders in San Francisco at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday, reporting that his vessel ran aground. The captain and his dog were able to walk ashore at low tide with no reported injuries.

The captain contracted Tow Boat US to try to refloat the vessel and transport it to Santa Cruz Harbor. But when personnel arrived on scene at approximately 11:20 a.m., they determined the salvage operation to be unsafe with multiple compartments being filled with seawater.

Tow Boat US responders returned at low tide at approximately 5:30 p.m. and secured the fuel vents to prevent fuel from being discharged.

The 56-foot Pacific Quest broken and beached near Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Defueling operations began Monday morning. An estimated 620 gallons were pumped into fuel totes before a tidal shift occurred and operations were suspended for safety. The removed fuel was pumped into vacuum trucks for transit. Operations continued at the next low tide and another 100 gallons of fuel were removed.

The Coast Guard, NOAA officials at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response and Monterey County and Santa Cruz Fire Department comprised the unified command.

Monterey Bay Diving has been hired to conduct debris removal operations.

An Oregon fishing captain is waiting trial after being accused of assaulting a woman aboard while under the influence aboard his fishing boat on Aug. 17.

Coast Guard officials received an anonymous tip around 8 p.m. on Aug. 16 about a situation at sea involving a woman in distress. The caller said Branden Michael Vanderploeg, the captain of the F/V Pescadero, had assaulted a woman.

A Coast Guard helicopter was launched from North Bend to locate the boat, which was found about 17 miles offshore. A response boat crew from the Umpqua River station followed soon after.

According to a federal affidavit filed by U.S. Coast Guard investigative special Agent Daniel C. Austin, responders immediately noticed a strong smell of alcohol on Vanderploeg and administered a breath alcohol test — his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.183. A person operating a commercial vessel is considered intoxicated at a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.

The crew noticed injuries to the face, neck and arms of Vanderploeg's girlfriend. Vanderploeg, 38, is accused of holding the woman down, punching her repeatedly in the face, slamming her head into a tool box and swinging a fishing gaff at her.

The Coast Guard towed the Pescadero to Winchester Bay, where Vanderploeg is from.

The victim suffered a 3-inch cut to her right cheek, a nose fracture and multiple contusions to her knees and arms. She was taken to a hospital and treated for her injuries.

Reporters from the Oregonian reached Vanderploeg following his first appearance in federal court later in August.

"We'd both been drinking, and I decided to turn the boat off and go to sleep,'' he told the Oregonian. "I did what I had to do to keep the vessel safe. There's two sides to each story.''

He declined to discuss the alleged assault.


The Coast Guard assisted a fisherman on Aug. 18 near Jenner, Calif., after his 33-foot fishing boat became disabled.

A Coast Guard crew assisted with temporary engine repairs on a disabled boat, enabling the stranded fisherman to return to port on its own power.

The fisherman contacted Coast Guard watchstanders in San Francisco around 4 p.m., reporting that his boat became disabled about three miles northwest of Jenner after the engine overheated.

A motor lifeboat crew from Bodega Bay responded. Once on scene, the crew determined that towing the vessel back to port was not possible because of a damaged tow connection on the disabled boat. The Coast Guard crew assisted the stranded fisherman with temporary engine repairs, enabling the vessel to operate on its own power.

The Coast Guard crew escorted the boat during a two-hour transit back to Bodega Bay to ensure the boater's safe return.

"It's important that mariners always conduct regular maintenance and test their boat's systems prior to getting underway," said Capt. Marie Byrd, Sector San Francisco's deputy commander. "Even with precautions, however, boaters can experience engine trouble, so the Coast Guard urges boaters to always have a marine VHF radio aboard to be able to call for help."


A 32-year-old woman was medevaced from the 196-foot NOAA research vessel Bell M. Shimada after suffering a seizure on Aug. 26. The boat was about 40 miles northwest of Grays Harbor, Wash., at the time of the incident.

The crew contacted the Coast Guard at 10:23 p.m, reporting that the woman sat down on the deck feeling dizzy, suffered a seizure and temporarily lost consciousness.

A Jayhawk helicopter crew from Astoria was dispatched to the scene. The captain of the fishing boat and a Coast Guard flight surgeon determined that a helicopter hoist was best. A surface transfer would have required the woman climb down a 6-foot ladder alone. Because of the potential seizure, she needed to be seen by a neurologist with six hours.

A rescue swimmer from the helicopter secured the woman in a stokes litter on deck before she was hoisted from the ship.

After the helicopter arrived back at the air station, she was taken by ambulance to Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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