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Three Fishermen Survive Sinking by Clinging to a Buoy

Miss Kara sinking
Courtesy USCG

Published Aug 9, 2023 4:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard has released details of a harrowing sinking off the coast of Massachusetts last weekend. Three commercial fishermen had to abandon ship when their vessel went down, and they ended up in the water with only a fishing buoy for floatation. 

At 1248 hours on Saturday, the rescue coordination center at the U.S. Coast Guard First District received an alert from the EPIRB registered to the fishing boat Miss Kara. The position was about five miles to the east of Nantucket. 

In response, the Coast Guard dispatched a search team, including a Jayhawk helicopter out of Air Station Cape Cod and a motor lifeboat out of Brandt Point, Nantucket. 

The fishing boat quickly sank, and “it was completely gone when we arrived on-scene,” USCG lifeboatman BM2 Chad Austin told the Nantucket Current.

The Jayhawk crew and the lifeboat both reached the scene of the sinking and coordinated on the best method for a rescue. All three of the fishing boat's crew were clinging to a crab pot buoy. None had life jackets or other survival gear on them. 

The responders decided that the helicopter's rescue swimmer would go into the water and help all three board a manbasket to be hoisted aboard the helicopter. All of the survivors were safe and unharmed, and were treated by an EMS crew on their return to shore at Hyannis airport. 

“Their properly registered EPIRB was invaluable for the rescue of these three fishermen,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kristi Butler, search and rescue coordinator for the First Coast Guard District. “This positive outcome demonstrates the importance of maintaining vital lifesaving equipment onboard your vessel.”

Miss Kara was a 55-foot commercial fishing vessel based in Hyannis. The cause of her sinking is not known.