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SAR Reports

FLOTILLA 15-8 RESPONDS TO SAR CASE OFF HERNANDO BEACH
 

At approximately 0730, 23APR12, I received a call at home from Yankeetown advising me that they required assistance with a SAR case in our AOR.  I immediately contacted Dom Fickeria, Coxswain, Bill Southard and Ray O'Connell, Crew membes to respond to the Flotilla and standby for orders from Yankeetown.  When I arrived at the Flotilla, Yankeetown requested that we launch asap.  I then notified Craig Elliot, Coxswain to assist on the plotting chart in the Radio Room, as 8195 prepared to embark.
 
The case was a 25' single mast sailboat, Lt. Green/Blue, last reported seen at 1700 hrs, 22APR12, in HB channel around marker 17.  We had no other information at the time.  While 8195 launched and proceeded to the search area (USCG requested we reach Bill Watts Light and commence SAR search patterns mindful of the shallow waters).  The winds were reported out of the West at 15- 20 knots, seas 2'-3', visibility 10 miles.  8195 reported a GAR of 18, which later was changed to 19 due to sea and wind conditions.  As a precaution, RWS/TCO requested a second stand by crew to report to the Flotilla.  Marty Marasco, Coxswain, Tom Cannariato and Jim Holley, Crew all did so.
 
At approximately 0900 hrs, Yankeetown notified RWS/TCO of a second distressed boat in or around Bill Watts Turn light, which was anchored and awaiting a tow.  They had RWS/TCO contact this second vessel to ascertain if they had fired off any flares during the night or morning - they reported they had not, but said they believed the sailboat we were looking for had just passed them, inbound, HB Channel.  This was immediately relayed to 8195 and RWS/TCO notified Yankeetown. 
 
At this point, there existed the possibility of potentially three (3) vessels in distress:  the sailboat, the anchored vessel and whomever might have signaled using emergency flares.  Shortly after this, 8195 was able to confirm the sailboat was the target of the SAR and that it did not fire off any flares and Yankeetown requested they escort them to the Hernando Beach Ramp and await arrival of a USCG Unit for boarding purposes. 
 
At about 1000 hrs, Yankeetown belayed the order to hold the boat at the HB Ramp and requested 8195 proceed immediatley to begin a search for the possible vessel that may have fired off the flares in or around HB Channel.  After a short time period heading out towards the HB channel,  8195 reported conditions had deteriorated beyond the Facilities and crews capabilities and they were returning to the dock, due to safety concerns.  This was an ongoing concern from the beginning of the mission, since there were small craft advisories up, the situation was constantly being assessed by Craig , Dom and myself to ensure crew safety.
 
Once 8195 secured at the dock, at 1030 hrs, the RWS/TCO called in their status and requested termination of the patrol from Yankeetown, which was granted.  The OIC, Chief Hinote, thanked our Flotilla for displaying a Semper Paratus preparedness and for the quick, professional response by all.
 
I want to commend all who took part, especially Dom, Bill & Ray, in 8195, as they had quite a bit to manage in the seas and winds but did complete their mission and did so successfully.  Also, thanks to Marty, Jim, Tom and Craig for taking action to answer the call when it went out.  Bravo Zulu to all.
 
The above sequence of events is a synopsis of the events today, not the whole story.  Without the training, classroom, workshop and on the water drilling we do throughput the year, we may not have been able to manage this task to the good conclusion we obtained.  It is a reminder that each RWS/TCO, Coxswain and Boat Crew member must maintain their edge,  continue to train hard and to practice all that is part of manning a Facility to assist the USCG in protecting our citizens.  While we strive to provide Boater Education to the public, we also must remember that we are on call 24-7, 365 days per year and must always stand prepared to respond when needed.
 
 John Hughes, Past Flotilla Commander
15-8