Helicopters from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen and the Royal Netherlands Navy rescued four men from a capsized vessel Sunday, about 45 nautical miles south of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
The rescue reinforced the importance of being prepared on the water, according to Lt. Carl Luxhoj, aircraft commander of the Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin aircraft that took part in the rescue.
“The survivors had life vests on and flares to signal the helicopter,” he said. “We thank our international partners from the Royal Netherlands Navy who heard the distress call and responded. Their assistance helped expedite the rescue and reduced the time the survivors were in the water clinging on to their vessel.”
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a call at 7:50 a.m. Sunday from Vieques Emergency Management personnel, who relayed a report of the distress from a friend of one of the rescued men.
The Coast Guard launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and broadcasted an Urgent Marine Information broadcast notifying marine traffic in the area to be on the lookout for the boaters. A Royal Netherlands Navy helicopter, flying in the vicinity, responded to render rescue assistance.
The Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew located the capsized vessel, with two men clinging on to the boat and two others sitting on top of the vessel.
The Coast Guard aircrew deployed their rescue swimmer, who used the aircraft rescue basket to hoist three of the boaters aboard, while the Royal Netherlands Navy helicopter rescued the remaining boater and recovered the Coast Guard rescue swimmer.
The rescued boaters were transported to St. Croix, where they were received by Customs and Border Protection authorities.