Emergency locating beacons alerted the Coast Guard to a fishing boat on fire 350 miles off the central California coast, and seven crew members were rescued by a cargo ship that responded to the Coast Guard’s call for assistance.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 11th District command center in Alameida, Calif., received multiple alerts from emergency position indicating radio beacons and personal location beacons from the vessel Blue Dragon around 12:20 a.m. Nov. 10, according to a Coast Guard account of the rescue.

The EPIRB and PLB signals indicated a position about 350 miles west of Monterey. The watchstanders coordinated the launch of a C-27 Spartan medium-range aircraft from the Coast Guard Sacramento Air Station at 1:30 a.m.

Using the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER), the command center issued a request for assistance from other vessels in the area. The crew of the 623-foot Portugal-flagged bulk carrier Nord Rubicon, en route from Vietnam and located 80 miles northwest of the beacons’ location, responded and told watchstanders they could divert and assist the fishing crew.

The C-27 aircrew arrived over the scene at 3:21 a.m. and reported the Blue Dragon was on fire and the crew in a life raft.

Seeing the fishermen signaling with a flashlight, the aircrew deployed a flare along with a self-locating datum marker buoy (SLDMB), which a transmit data about direction and speed of sea surface drift. A second C-27 took off from Sacramento at 8 a.m.

The bulk carrier arrived on scene at 9:30 a.m., and the crew reported recovering all seven survivors from the life raft, with no injuries reported, the Coast Guard said. The Nord Rubicon carried the seven on to port in San Francisco early Thursday morning.

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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