OCEAN CITY — Six people were successfully pulled from the water last week after their vessel caught fire about three miles off the Ocean City coast.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard Maryland-National Capital Region command center received notification via VHF channel 16 from the owner of the 54-foot cruiser yacht No Filter that a fire had broken out on board and all six occupants were abandoning ship. Several other boaters in the area had also contacted the Coast Guard command center that the boat had become engulfed in flames.
Coast Guard Sector Maryland-NCR issued an urgent marine broadcast and launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Ocean City to respond to the scene. Meanwhile, crewmembers from the commercial fishing vessel Smugglers Point arrived on the scene first after hearing the urgent marine broadcast and safely recovered all six individuals from the water.
The Coast Guard Station Ocean City rescue boat arrived on scene a short time later and crewmembers safely transferred the victims to their vessel and transported them back to the station. The owner of the No Filter stayed behind to await Tow Boat U.S. crews to prepare to conduct salvage operations. All six boaters were wearing lifejackets and no injuries were reported.
The Good Samaritan vessel Smugglers Point, a commercial fishing boat which harvests menhaden, was returning from fishing off the coast of New Jersey to its home port in Reedville, Va., when crewmembers heard the urgent marine broadcast. The captain and crew of the Smugglers Point changed course and headed to the area of the distressed vessel’s broadcasted coordinates, according to a release from Omega Protein, the parent company that owns and operates the Smugglers Point.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” said Smugglers Point First Mate Roger Smith, who is also a licensed captain. “We were half a mile away at the most.”
The Smugglers Point crew arrived on the scene and found the No Filter engulfed in flames and six people in the water. The crew turned the 170-foot Smugglers Point toward the distressed victims and deployed lifesaving rescue equipment to bring them on board. The Smugglers Point crew maintained constant communication with the Coast Guard throughout the rescue.
“I’m just thankful we were able to help them,” said Smugglers Point Captain Robert Huff. “I feel like it’s something anybody in that situation would have done. I know it’s something you don’t ever want to have to do. You talk about it and have safety meetings about it and you try to have a plan for it. In my opinion, the rescue went extremely well.”