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Flare fired after boat capsizes off Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico rescue

Four occupants of a capsized boat have been rescued off Puerto Rico after a flare they fired was seen by U.S. Coast Guard and Dutch Navy helicopter crews.

The US citizens were spotted clinging to their boat and were rescued around 45 miles south of Vieques one day in July 2019.

The search was conducted by a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen helicopter aircrew and a Royal Netherlands Navy helicopter aircrew after the alarm was raised by a friend.

Lt. Carl Luxhoj, Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin aircraft commander, says, "Today’s rescue reinforced the importance of being prepared on the water.

“The survivors had life vests on and flares to signal the helicopter.  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 the initial call from Vieques Emergency Management personnel. The Dolphin helicopter crew 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, which was in the area, also assisted.

The helicopter crews found the capsized vessel with two men clinging on to the boat and two others sitting on top.  

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, U.S. Virgin Islands, where they were received by Customs and Border Protection authorities.

The image shows the aircrew of Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and a Royal Netherlands Navy helicopter rescue swimmer with the four survivors of a capsized vessel. It is courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard.

Aug 27, 2019