Members aboard the Island Breeze, a 56-foot sailboat, set off an emergency position indicating radio beacon at approximately 8:15 a.m., which was received by the Coast Guard 5th District Command Center watchstanders.
“Not only do EPIRBs save lives, but this goes to show how quickly the Coast Guard can respond when the device is properly registered,” said Thomas Botzenhart, a search and rescue controller at the 5th District Command Center. “Due to proper registration, we not only had the location of the distressed vessel, but also received contact information that was used to verify the sailboat was underway.”
Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and dispatched crews aboard an HC-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.
Crewmembers aboard the Eptalofos, a 753-foot bulk carrier registered with automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue system, responded to the AMVER request at approximately 10 a.m. They were able to confirm the vessel’s location and notify the Coast Guard that they were in contact with the crewmembers aboard the Island Breeze, which was without steering.
The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene at approximately 11 a.m., established communications with the sailboat crew, who requested to be removed from the boat. Once the Jayhawk crew arrived on scene, they hoisted the four people and took them to Air Station Elizabeth City, where they were met by an ambulance crew.