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Boating Safety Tip of the Day
Be safe. Be smart when you re-fuel.

Have all passengers disembark before re-fueling. Close all cabin doors and windows. Hold gas nozzle well against the metal of the fuel tank filler pipe. Avoid all spills. Pay close attention to the work at hand.

Posts Tagged ‘Distress’

Make preparations for the hurricane now!

Date: Oct. 26, 2012
Contact: 5th District Public Affairs
Office: (757) 398-6272

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard urges mariners to heed warnings as Hurricane Sandy is expected to affect the mid-Atlantic region between North Carolina and New Jersey this weekend.

As Sandy approaches, the Coast Guard urges people to be mindful of the following:

- Anticipate bridge closures. Mariners are advised that during strong storms drawbridges along the coast may deviate from the normal operating procedures. Drawbridges are authorized to remain closed upon the approach of or higher as stated in the Code of Federal Regulations 117.35, which applies to “natural disasters or civil disorders.” Mariners should anticipate bridge closures by listening to the National Weather Service and Coast Guard broadcasts on the storm conditions.

- Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s capabilities are degraded as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. Boaters are urged to heed weather watches, warnings and small . People should not go out on their boats 48 hours prior to and at least 72-96 hours after a hurricane has passed as debris may be in the water and navigational aids may have shifted.

- Evacuate as necessary. If evacuations are set for an area, the public is urged to heed to those orders. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate those in danger during the storm.

- Secure your belongings. Owners of larger boats are urged to move their boats to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage. Trailerable boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, , emergency position indicating radio beacons and small boats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search and resources to be diverted to ensure people are not in .

- Be cautious of hazardous materials. If you have hazardous materials on or near the water, you are responsible for any spills that may occur. Take the to secure them prior to any foul weather.

- Stay clear of beaches. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers are urged to wait until local officials say the water is safe.

- Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Sandy through local television, radio and internet. Boaters can monitor its progress on -FM channel 16. Information can also be obtained on port conditions in by visiting the Coast Guard’s Homeport Site.

- For more information on the progress of Sandy and hurricane , please visit the National Hurricane Center’s website.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The United States Coast Guard — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Take steps be better prepared for your voyage.

Date: Oct. 22, 2012
Office: (305) 965-4672

TAMPA, Fla. — The Coast Guard and partner agencies responded to numerous disabled boat distress calls in the area this weekend.

Coast Guard Watchstanders at Sector St. Petersburg received more than 10 distress calls from disabled boaters in need of assistance.

The Coast Guard would like to remind boaters of a few tips to keep safe on the water:

Being educated about safe boating could save a life. Most occur on boats where the operator had not completed a course. Courses cover many aspects of , from boat handling to reading the .

The Coast Guard urges boaters to obtain a free , which can be conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Vessel safety checks, are courtesy examinations of your vessel, verifying the presence and condition of certain required by state and federal regulations.

Always wear a life jacket and be alert and aware while on the water.

Make sure a friend or relative knows your . A states where you are going and how many people are on board your vessel. It also gives a vessel description, details your destination and what time you expect to arrive there. If you are delayed for some reason, make sure you let someone know.

Make certain to check the local weather prior to departing the dock. Weather can change very rapidly and you should keep a on the fore-casted conditions.

Have of the area you are boating in, a and a reliable means of communication on board your vessel.

VHF-FM radio is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area and the inevitable dead battery.

Wear your life jacket. More than 90 percent of boaters who drown were not wearing their life jackets. In an emergency there might not be enough time to put one on, so wearing one at all times may save your life.

Making sure all equipment is in good working order, prior to leaving the dock ensures a safe trip.

For information on information, click here.


(Ed Note: Be prepared!)



Date: July 28, 2012
Contact: 5th District Public Affairs
Office: (757) 398-6272

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Coast Guard units are responding Saturday to a vessel that sank 46 miles east of Ocean City, Md.

A 38-foot vessel with nine people aboard called Coast Guard watchstanders via -FM radio at approximately 10:30 a.m., stating that they where .

A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules air crew from , N.C., were in the area assisting with an another disabled vessel when the request for help was received.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., the 38-foot vessel sank. The Coast Guard coordinated the pick-up of all nine people with two vessels in the area.  Multiple people where showing signs of medical .

A Coast Guard 47-foot Motor Life from Station Ocean City, Md., took all nine people aboard and is currently en route back to the station to waiting .


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Date: July 18, 2012
Contact: Petty Officer 1st Class Lauren Jorgensen
Office: (305) 318-1864

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A U.S. crew from Air Facility Charleston, S.C., was forced to land abruptly while searching for a possible boater in Monday night due to being shined into the cockpit of the helicopter from shore.

The life-threatening incident is not the first of its kind for Coast Guard aircrews, and puts the lives of the pilots, crew, citizens on the ground near the aircraft, and mariners in distress at risk.

The aircrew Monday night still had 40 minutes before their search for the source of call was complete when they were forced to land early.

Coast Guardsmen at Air Station Savannah, which provides crews for Air Facility Charleston, have experienced six separate lasing incidents in the past year and a half, four of which occurred during searches for mariners in distress.

When a laser is directed into a , the aircrew has to stop searching immediately and land. The crew is grounded until each person has an and is cleared by a . This process can take up to 24 hours, depending on when and where the incident occurred. Additionally, there is typically a two-to-three hour delay to get a new helicopter and crew on scene to resume a search.

“People need to consider how many lives they’re putting in danger before they choose to point a at an aircraft,” said Cmdr. Gregory Fuller, commanding officer of Air Station Savannah. “It’s not only incredibly for those in and around the aircraft, but it also keeps our aircrews from responding during maritime emergencies. This isn’t something we take lightly.”

The Federal Aviation Administration reports lasing incidents rose 902 percent from 2005 to 2011. Shining any laser at an aircraft is a under 14 CFR 19.11. Several people have been convicted under this and similar state laws. These convictions have resulted in prison terms as long as five years, fines of up to $11,000, and five years probation.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Date: July 08, 2012
U.S. Coast Guard
Contact: 14th District Public Affairs
Office: (808) 535-3230

MAUI, Hawaii – Coast Guardsmen and members of the Maui County Police Department responded to kayakers in off the northwest coast of Moloka’i, near Kaluako’i Villas, at approximately 7 p.m. Saturday.

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watchstanders received a call on channel 16, reporting four kayakers in distress. The reporting party told watchstanders one of the kayaks was getting swamped with water while the other was getting swept out to sea. The reporting party, one of the kayakers, utilized a hand-held VHF radio to call for assistance.

A Coast Guard aircrew piloting an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Barbers Point, the crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Ahi and a crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Honolulu were sent to respond. The Dolphin aircrew located one of the kayakers and hoisted him into the helicopter. The other three were located safely ashore by members of the Maui County Police Department.

This case was successful due to the ’s use of the VHF radio and a lifejacket. provide the most while on the water. The Coast Guard strongly recommends mariners purchase, maintain and carry a aboard their vessels.

The Coast Guard also recommends mariners wear lifejackets at all times when aboard any type of watercraft. Lifejackets greatly increase changes of survival during an emergency.

For more information contact Lt. Leigh Cotterell, the Sector Honolulu public affairs officer at 808-292-3692.


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Kayakers, and Stand-Up Paddleboarders in take note! Wear your and carry a Marine VHF radio!

Date: July 03, 2013

Contact: 5th District Public Affairs
Office: (757) 398-6272

PORTSMOUTH, Va.  The Coast Guard urges boaters and swimmers to be mindful of potentially severe weather as they prepare for the Fourth of July.

Dangerous weather last weekend contributed to a high number of search and cases throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

Coast Guard units from southern Pennsylvania to North Carolina responded to more than 50 cases Friday through Sunday with assistance from partnering agencies. These included capsized boats, vessels beset by severe weather, boats that took on water, disabled vessels and swimmers in distress. Though the circumstances leading to these accidents vary, they all underscore two important lessons about enjoying time on or near the water: Always take the necessary safety precautions and exercise vigilance during the summer holidays and when weather is prone to change suddenly.

“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable holiday on the water,” said Lt. Jack Smith, Coast Guard Sector ’ chief of incident management.  “But boaters need to keep an eye on the weather, not only for when and where they leave the dock, but also for the rest of the day. Thunderstorms and severe winds can quickly develop during summer afternoons and pose a threat to even large vessels.”

In an effort to reduce the number of incidents on the water and to increase the safety of boaters and swimmers, the Coast Guard recommends the following:

  • Wearing a . According to Coast Guard statistics, were the cause of 70 percent of all boating fatalities in 2011. Of those victims, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets. The successful rescue of nine people on Sunday near Barnegat Light Inlet, N.J., illustrates there may be little time to put on a life jacket after an accident, so wearing one at all times is important.
  • Outfitting boats with a functioning marine band radio. Cell phones are typically an unreliable source of communication due to gaps in coverage and limited battery life. Using -FM Channel 16 on a marine band radio is the most reliable way to communicate a distress call to search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency while on the water.
  • Making sure a friend or relative knows your float plan. A float plan states where a boater is going and how many people are aboard the vessel, gives a complete vessel description and details a destination and estimated time of return. Float plans aid rescuers in identifying a search area in the event of an emergency.

Another aspect of is not operating a vessel under the influence. Alcohol use was the leading factor in fatal boating accidents in 2011. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as deadly as drinking and driving and is illegal in every state. There are penalties for violating these laws, which can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges, and jail terms.

“Boating safety can be greatly improved by following two basic principles: wear your life jacket and don’t drink and boat,” said Smith.  “If you follow these guidelines, you will help to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for yourself and others on the water.”

Swimmers should also exercise caution. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents annually account for more than 100 drownings. Be aware of the dangers of swimming in tidal and ocean waters, especially if unfamiliar with them. Learn the signs of rip currents and know how to escape them. Stay calm, and rather than swim against the rip current, swim parallel to the shore and back in to safety.

More information and a complete list of boating safety guidelines can be found at the following websites:

U.S. http://www.cgaux.org

Vessel Safety Checks http://www.vesselsafetycheck.org

Coast Guard Boating Safety http://www.uscgboating.org/

National Safe Boating Council http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org%20

U.S. http://www.usps.org/


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The — Proud History. Powerful Future.

Date: June 20, 2012
D1-PADET NYC – PA2 Jetta Disco
Contact: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta Disco
Office: (212) 668-7114
Mobile: (917) 703-0983

NEW YORK – The Coast Guard continues to investigate a probable that was received June 11, 2012, alleging a yacht explosion off , N.J.

Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service New York received the distress call at approximately 4:20 p.m., reportedly from the master of the yacht Blind Date, stating the vessel suffered an explosion with 21 people aboard.

A massive, multi-agency search took place 17 nautical miles east of Sandy Hook, and involved two crews, four crews, response units from New York City Police Department, Fire Department of New York City, New , and . Good Samaritan boats also participated in the 5 1/2-hour, 638-square nautical mile search.

Coast Guard Investigative Service New York believes there may be a connection to a similar unresolved distress call in the Houston, Texas area, May 20, 2012.

Audio from the suspected hoax distress call in Houston.

Some of the similarities of the two cases include:

1. Both calls seem to originate from land. With the Sandy Hook case, Coast Guard direction finding equipment points to an area from the north shore of Staten Island, over New Jersey to near the George Washington Bridge.

2. The caller specifically contacted a Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service in both cases. Typically when a person is in distress they will ask for the Coast Guard in general or hail mayday on 16, the known emergency frequency.

3. The same terminology was used in both the Houston and Sandy Hook case, and not all of it was standard nautical/non-military mariner terminology. The caller, for both cases specifically stated they were “,” not sinking. He used “souls” to describe the people aboard and “beacon” to describe a supposed automatic signaling device on liferafts.

4. The caller in both cases gave very specific locations of distress and distances, while at the same time exhibiting throughout the calls unfamiliarity with the area and/or using references to location that a boat captain typically wouldn’t use.

5. Voice and manner of speaking were similar for both calls.

“Within the first 24 hours of the response in Sector Houston Galveston, we became suspicious that this call was a hoax because of a few oddities.  One, it was called into vessel traffic service Houston-Galveston over Channel 11, two, the distressed vessel’s master easily switched to channel 16, and three, none of our SAR assets found vessel debris.  That being said, we had no tangible evidence as we have had in previous hoax cases in the Eighth Coast Guard District.  We continued to search on this case with the typical zest, zeal, and vigor that we search on all SAR cases to try to locate and rescue the six reported missing persons,” said Capt. Ed Cubanski, chief of the Eighth Coast Guard District incident management branch, located in New Orleans, which overseas operations throughout the Gulf Coast.

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is asking for the public’s help. A $3,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible for making a false distress call to the Coast Guard. Anyone with information regarding this probable hoax is encouraged to anonymously contact CGIS at 212-668-7048 or 646-872-5774.


Previous news releases for this case are below.

After probable hoax call, Coast Guard emphasizes consequences, impact on operations


Coast Guard releases audio from probable hoax distress call


Coast Guard has increased reward for New Jersey hoax


Coast Guard suspends New Jersey search



Date: June 12, 2012
U.S. Coast Guard
Contact: Public Affairs Detachment New York
Office: (212) 668-7114
Mobile: (917) 703-0983

NEW YORK – The Coast Guard has increased the to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the person responsible for making a false call to the Coast Guard Monday, reporting a vessel explosion and sinking east of Sandy Hook, N.J.

Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to anonymously contact the U.S. at 646-872-5774 or 212-668-7048.

Coast Guard New York received a distress call at approximately 4:20 p.m., Monday, reportedly from the yacht Blind Date, stating the vessel suffered an explosion, seven people were injured and all 21 people reportedly aboard the yacht had abandoned ship into liferafts. A later call to the Coast Guard reported that three people aboard the boat had died, and that several people had 2nd- and 3rd-degree burns, and that people aboard were abandoning ship into liferafts.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.  Coast Guard and other state and local agencies responded to more than 60 suspected hoax calls in the northern New Jersey, New York City and Hudson River region in 2011.

In addition to being a , false distress calls waste , put Coast Guard and other first responders at unnecessary risk and can interfere with the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to actual distress at sea.

“More than 200 first responders assembled mass casualty receptions areas in Newark, and Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook, N.J., preparing to receive the reported injured passengers,” said Cmdr. Kenneth Pierro, of Coast Guard Sector New York.

Monday’s east of Sandy Hook included two Coast Guard boat crews and four crews, who searched approximately 638 square nautical miles. Response units from New , Fire Department of New York City, and Nassau County Police Department also conducted searches in the area.

For more information contact Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment New York 212-668-7114 or 917-703-0983.

Editor’s Note:  The Coast Guard will hold a media briefing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 12, 2012, to discuss the investigation into this possible hoax.

WHO: Capt. Gregory P. Hitchen, Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector New York, and Special Agent William P. Hicks III, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service New York Field Office

WHEN: 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 12, 2012
WHERE: Coast Guard Battery Park Building
1 South Street, New York, N.Y., 10004


Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The United States Coast Guard — Proud History. Powerful Future.

D8 External Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard
News Release
Date: October 31, 2011
Contact: Lt. Steven Vanderlaske
(361) 438-0176

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi suspended five searches in October suspected of being hoaxes.

Not every distress call is real, and a false call can unnecessarily put crews in situations while wasting valuable resource hours. Approximately 80 man-hours were expended during the five cases.  In total, Air Station Corpus Christi completed two searches with an HU-25 Falcon jet and an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter, and a 25-foot Response Boat–Small was also used.

“We have spent a considerable amount of effort, money, and risk,” said Mario Gonzalez, a watchstander at Sector Corpus Christi. “We are searching for what seems to be someone playing games, taking away from those who might actually be in peril.”

Maritime place on the rescuers responding to the calls and interfere with legitimate cases, which cost the American taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. If a hoax caller is not caught, the taxpayers shoulder the burden of the search. Coast Guard, federal, state, and local partners’ aircraft and vessels are costly to operate. For example, a costs more than $4,000 an hour and cost between $300 and $400 an hour to operate.

Under federal law, knowingly and willfully making a false distress call is a felony. Even if a child makes the distress call, the parents are ultimately responsible. The for making hoax distress calls is five to 10 years in prison, a $5,000 civil fine, a $250,000 criminal fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the costs incurred responding to the false call.

Common hoax call sources:

-  Boaters trying to obtain a radio check are a common source of false distress calls. Mayday calls receive instant action from the Coast Guard, a concerned boater or both responding under the impression that the boater is in distress.

-  Some VHF marine band radios have a distress button feature that when activated emits a digital Morse code SOS signal. Improper operation of an automatic SOS feature, either by accident or on purpose, is a violation of law and endanger boaters’ lives.

-  Unsupervised children are also a source of false distress calls.

-  Adults intentionally transmitting false information for the purpose of entertainment or to launch a search.

The Coast Guard has taken steps to improve its capabilities to track radio distress signals by developing the Rescue 21 program.  Sector Corpus Christi uses Rescue 21’s direction finding technology to minimize the search area for each distress call.  The Coast Guard is then able to determine when a call is a probable hoax and reduce unnecessary search efforts.

The Coast Guard needs the assistance of the public to reduce hoax calls. This can be done by:

- Removing radios or locking them up when not in use.

- Teach children that unauthorized use puts people in danger.

- Report suspect hoaxes to the U.S. Coast Guard Tip line: 1-800-264-5980

All calls are confidential and tipsters can remain anonymous if they choose.

For official Coast Guard video and radio Public Service Announcements, click on the links below:

Hoax call video PSA

30 sec. radio PSA

60 sec. radio PSA

In October, Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi responded to a total of 40 search and rescue cases, resulting in 54 lives saved or assisted.



Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
The United States Coast Guard — Proud History. Powerful Future.

5th District Public Affairs
U.S. Coast Guard
News Release
Date: Oct 29, 2011

Contact: 5th District Public Affairs
(757) 398-6272

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 5th District command center helped coordinate the of five people 256 miles northeast of Bermuda with the assistance of the cruise ship Norwegian Gem, Saturday morning.

At approximately 7 a.m., watchstanders received notification from a member of the sailing vessel Sanctuary, stating that they had taken several large breaking waves over the bow, had lost power and were slowly .

A C-130 Hercules crew from was launched to locate and assist.

The reporting source said that the crew all had on, but their life raft had washed overboard.

Using AMVER, the Automated Mutual-assistance Vessel Rescue system, the Coast Guard asked the captain of the Norwegian Gem to assist the sailors in .

The Norwegian Gem diverted course, was directed to the scene by the C-130 crew, and successfully rescued the five people from the Sanctuary.



Saving Lives and Guarding the Coast Since 1790.
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  • A foggy day in Southern Maryland. Good morning shipmates.
  • Wear it!  News media ask the boaters you photograph why they don't. Start the discussion and save a life.
  • Our cold-water survival training was ultimately made possible by the Guardians of  U S Coast Guard Station Annapolis.  Two Guardians hauled each of us onto the deck of a fast boat.  During the training they made sure we were safe.  I am so proud to serve with these men and women. Each one is an outstanding professional.  Thank you Station Annapolis.
  • Once a crew is in the water survival and staying together is key. Chaining together as they do here the crew shares warmth and prolongs life.
  • A face that could be your next door neighbor. Coast Guard Auxiliary members from three Maryland flotillas took their annual cold-water training at Coast Guard Station Annapolis. Bill Smith from the Drum Point Flotilla reflects the serious of his training in his expression. Bill is not new to cold water.
  • To. feller and Bill Smith, Coast Guard Auxiliary, arrive at Coast Guard Station Annapolis for cold-water training.
  • A two-minute lesson that covered finger dexterity after cold water immersion. We placed a hand in cold water while the instructor spoke for two minutes. One we removed our hands we had to pick up the coin on the table. Not as easy as if looks. Try this only with an expert present.
  • Shawn Moore, Auxiliarist was our cold-water instructor.
  • Ray Feller, Auxiliarist  dons his dry suit. The suit provides significant protection in cold water. Having the suit alone is not enough. Knowing how the human body reacts to sudden immersion was the classroom session of our training today.
  • These volunteers attending cold-water survival training today could be your neighbors. Flotillas from Solomons Island to Annapolis were represented today.  Guardians made sure our training was safe. Another reason why I love to say Guardians rock!
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Rear Admiral William "Dean" Lee

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