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U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Four from Sinking Yacht

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The Clam Chowder sinking, December 15 (USCG)

By The Maritime Executive 12-16-2019 01:59:00

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescued four men from a life raft on Sunday morning after they were forced to abandon a sinking yacht off Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. 

The four survivors were U.S. citizens from Boston and Florida, all in their 20s and 30s. They were traveling on board the 80-foot yacht Clam Chowder when the vessel began taking on water and started sinking about 25 nm northwest of Aguadilla. 

At about 0520 hours on Sunday, Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a VHF distress call from the Clam Chowder. The mayday call reported the vessel’s stern was mostly under water. Despite having multiple pumps energized, the crew could not keep up with the flooding. As flooding progressed, the Clam Chowder was also losing power and listing to starboard, and her captain ordered the crew to abandon the vessel.

Sector San Juan ordered the launch of the Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered to find and rescue the boaters. Watchstanders also issued an urgent broadcast to alert marine traffic in the area. The Malta-flagged 680-feet container ship Calais Trader received the request and remained on scene during the rescue in case her assistance was needed.

The helicopter aircrew arrived on scene and located all four men safely aboard the life raft. The aircrew completed multiple hoists using a rescue basket to bring the survivors safely aboard the aircraft.

The survivors were transported to Air Station Borinquen where they were transferred to awaiting medical personnel and customs officials. One of the rescuees reportedly severed his finger while releasing the life raft from the Clam Chowder.

“This rescue highlights the importance of having proper survival gear and the thorough preparation by the crew of the Clam Chowder,” said Lt. Carlos Gonzalez, MH-65 Dolphin helicopter co-pilot for the case. “Having lifejackets, VHF radios and a raft helped save four lives today.”