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Oil Platforms Support Long-Range Rescue in Gulf of Mexico

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Images courtesy USCG Eighth District

By The Maritime Executive 01-03-2020 01:45:00

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued two mariners from their disabled sailing vessel, Rhapsody, at a position about 250 nautical miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas on Thursday afternoon. A USCG MH-65 Dolphin helicopter used offshore oil platforms as refueling stations on the way out to the scene. 

Watchstanders at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center received an emergency position indicating radio beacon alert at 0215 hours Thursday. They directed the launch of a Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew and asked the LPG tanker Sahara Gas to divert and investigate.

Once on scene, the Sahara Gas reported two people aboard a 37-foot sailing vessel disabled by an engine room fire. The tanker was unable to lower a life boat to render assistance due to 10-foot seas.

The air crew of the HC-144 Ocean Sentry arrived on scene and established a communications schedule with the two mariners aboard the Rhapsody. With weather deteriorating, an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was launched to conduct a hoist, as well as an Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew to provide communications support.

At 1245 hours, the MH-65 helicopter crew hoisted the two mariners and transferred them to Air Station Houston. 

"The success of this rescue was heavily reliant on our strong partnerships," said Petty Officer 1st Class Ra Wilkinson, an operations specialist at the Eighth Coast Guard District command center. "From the good Samaritan LPG tanker Sahara Gas who remained on scene with the vessel, to the offshore platforms that supported the refueling of our MH-65 throughout the journey, to the multiple Coast Guard units involved, we were stronger together and two mariners are out of danger because of it."  

Weather on scene was reported as 17-23 mph winds and 10-foot seas.