A Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew from Puerto Rico hoisted two V.I. fishermen to safety Monday morning, about 14 nautical miles south of St. Thomas.
According to a news release from Coast Guard Public Information Officer Ricardo Castrodad, the two fishermen reportedly went out on a fishing trip Sunday morning from Coki Bay in St. Thomas and became adrift after their dinghy ran out of fuel during their return.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan were contacted Sunday night by the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Authority in St. Thomas, who reported the incident. The Coast Guard diverted a HC-144 Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft from Air Station Miami to begin the search. The aircrew located the fishermen at 1:57 a.m. Monday. The two were aboard their 12-foot dinghy waving their arms for assistance.
The HC-144 Ocean Sentry crew dropped a radio package that was recovered by the fishermen and confirmed their identities upon establishing communications. A Coast Guard rescue helicopter from Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla arrived on scene shortly thereafter and deployed their rescue swimmer to assess the situation and hoist the fishermen to safety.
The fishermen, whose names were not released by the Coast Guard, were transported to the Cyril E. King Airport where they were transferred to awaiting Emergency Medical Service personnel.
"The primary reasons that this case was so successful were that the survivors stayed with their vessel and also had the required safety equipment on board," said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Lampe, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircraft commander.
"Our helicopter crew was able to spot the boat from a distance of nearly eight nautical miles because of a simple strobe light, and the hoisting evolution went very smoothly because both men were wearing their life jackets."