Coast Guard coordinates joint-agency rescue of 5 people from seaplane

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of five persons from a seaplane, which had to make an emergency landing, approximately 460 miles east southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, Saturday.

The seaplane left Elizabeth City, North Carolina, early Saturday morning and was forced to make an emergency landing after striking an object during take-off, which damaged the aircraft’s front node.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 5th District command center were notified of the distressed plane Saturday afternoon by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was launched from Air Station Elizabeth City to monitor the situation.

The Coast Guard utilized the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System to divert a 754-foot Liberian bulk carrier, Polar Peru, which was transiting nearby. The crew of the Polar Peru arrived on scene and transferred the five persons onto their vessel Saturday night.

The U.S. Navy diverted USS Mason (DDG 87) to rendezvous with Polar Peru to transport the rescued seaplane passengers back to land. The guided-missile destroyer was underway conducting operations in the Atlantic Ocean with Carrier Strike Group 12.

Coast Guard personnel from station Mayport are scheduled to meet USS Mason Monday morning to take the passengers to Mayport, Florida.

“We were able to get help for the seaplane by initiating an alert through the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System,” said Lt. Daniel Dunn, the command duty officer at the 5th District command center. “We encourage commercial mariners to enroll their vessels in this system which helps to coordinate emergency assistance from nearby vessels at sea. We would also like to commend the crew on how prepared they were for an emergency situation. They had all the required safety equipment, like life jackets, to ensure they would survive while response units were en route.”