Coast Guard, Navy respond to disabled sailboat off Virginia Beach coast

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Coast Guard Cutter Reliance brought two crew-members and their disabled sailboat back to shore Friday.

The call-to-action was made after after a Navy ship responded to their distress call offshore.

A Navy destroyer crew heard the pan-pan distress call on the VHF marine-band radio Thursday night. They came to the sailors’ aid and relayed the message to Coast Guard.

After the ship’s crew determined there was no immediate distress on the sailboat, they waited until the Reliance arrived early Friday morning.

The two men reported that they were traveling from Sheepshead Bay, New York, to St. Croix on their 32-foot Kerie Elite sailboat, the C’est La Vie, when the tiller for their rudder snapped.

Reliance’s crew transferred the two crew-members that were aboard and put the sailboat in tow.

It could possibly take 48 hours for them to get close to Cape Henry, where a commercial maritime towing company is expected to bring the sailboat back to shore.

“It was lucky that the Navy heard the heard the vessel’s pan-pan,” said Lieutenant Amanda Faulkner, a watchstander in the 5th District command center. “Having the right on-water communications equipment is critical to having a safe trip. These sailors had an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB, on board, which they would have needed to use if no one had been in VHF range.”

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