Coast Guard rescue crews assisted five people aboard a sinking fishing vessel approximately 100 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., at approximately 3:45 a.m., Thursday.
Watchstanders from the Sector Southeastern New England Command Center received a distress call from the 80-foot fishing vessel Megan-Marie at approximately 6:40 p.m., Wednesday. The vessel reported they were taking on water with five people on board.
The fishing vessel Megan-Marie had all the required safety gear as well as dewatering pumps, but the pumps were not keeping up with the flooding.
A Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter crew and an HC-144 Ocean Sentry crew, a Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City C-130 Hercules crew, the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca and the Coast Guard Cutter Flying Fish were launched to assist.
Additionally, a NAVTEX message was broadcasted requesting vessels in the area to assist if possible.
The air station’s newest aircraft, the HC-144 Ocean Sentry, was the first to arrive on scene with the vessel. They established communications and delivered two dewatering pumps. Weather conditions were reportedly 10 to 14-foot seas and 25-knot winds.
The C-130 Hercules crew dropped an additional pump which allowed the Megan-Marie crew to control the flooding and identify the source.
The source of the flooding is a hole located under the engine block, making it impossible to patch or secure underway.
The Seneca and the Flying Fish are escorting the Megan-Marie and her crew safely to their homeport of New Bedford, Mass. They will remain with the vessel to ensure issues like fuel or flooding create more safety risks.
“The new HC-144 Ocean Sentry out of Air Station Cape Cod has only been standing the watch a few weeks and this was a major search and rescue response,” said Lt. Joe Klinker, 1st Coast Guard District public affairs officer. “To get supplies to that crew, in those conditions… once these fishermen get back into port and see their families, it will be a true testament to how important that search and rescue mission is.”
The HC-144A also has operational flexibility, with a rear ramp that allows crews to quickly reconfigure the aircraft for varied missions such as command and control, medical evacuation or passenger transport. With an endurance of more than 10 hours, this fixed-wing, turbo-prop aircraft has an extensive sensor capability that helps the Coast Guard fulfill its maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response, and search and rescue missions more effectively.