Coast Guard crews, along with the help of the good Samaritan fishing vessel, Miss Joanna, rescued the crew of the fishing vessel Jessica Ann after the vessel began taking on water, nearly 10 miles east of South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico, Saturday.
At approximately 4:30 a.m., the captain of the fishing vessel Jessica Ann contacted Coast Guard watchstanders at Station South Padre Island for help on VHF-FM channel 16 on the vessel’s marine band radio. The captain could not provide a GPS position.
Coast Guard Air Station Corpus Christi launched an HU-25 Falcon fixed-wing aircraft and crew to search for the vessel using the general location provided and spotted an emergency flare being shot from the Jessica Ann at approximately 5:30 a.m.
The crew of the Falcon parachute-dropped a dewatering pump to the vessel and directed a 41-foot utility boat and crew from Station South Padre Island to the location to further assist.
“When we arrived on scene, the weather was deteriorating rapidly with seas growing to 6 feet and rain reducing visibility down to one half mile,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Lars Arrington, coxswain of the rescue boat. “Our boat station’s officer the day thought to coordinate with the Jessica Ann to light off flares as we got close. The ship was using Long Range Navigation, which is no longer a reliable position-reporting source, so we had to guess. If it weren’t for the flares, with the weather we had, we may not have found them in time. The Jessica Ann was listing to one side with 5 feet of flooding, taking on water through the ship’s propeller shaft and was not able to pump water out with the ship’s inoperative bilge pumps.
“A little after 7 a.m., we had controlled the flooding enough to make it ready to tow back into port.”
The Miss Joanna, a good Samaritan vessel in the area, voluntarily assisted in towing the vessel Jessica Ann back to Port Isabel, arriving in Port Isabel at approximately 12:20 p.m.
The Coast Guard is remaining on scene to further assist.
“We ask that all mariners be ready for the worst as we move into colder weather and have a working GPS device onboard with a marine band radio to call for help,” said Cmdr. Dan Deptula, response officer for Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “If mariners have an EPIRB, being familiar with its location and how to use it could save their life. Once actived, an EPRIB sends a GPS position directly to our response center, and we’ll know exactly where you are.
“Our success today was a team effort from the aviation crew’s precise drop of the dewatering pump, to the rescue boat crew’s tireless on-scene efforts, and especially the assistance from the good Samaritan vessel, Miss Joanna.”