Everyone is safe in what could have been a major ocean tragedy—thanks to fellow boaters and the Coast Guard coming to the rescue.
A 115-foot commercial fishing vessel, Tremont, and a 1,000-foot container vessel, the MSC Rita, apparently collided in the Atlantic about 63 miles southeast of Chincoteague.
F/V Tremont began to take on water and sink, according to the Coast Guard. The fishing boat made a mayday call to Coast Guard Sector Virginia around 2 a.m. Oct. 28. 13 people were aboard the sinking vessel.
USCG launched a helicopter, a Hercules plane, a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew, and also diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch to help.
Thankfully, the Research Vessel Atlantis, a Navy oceanographic research ship operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, was in the area as was a second vessel, Drystan.
Both good Samaritan boats arrived before the Coast Guard could.
The Atlantis launched their small boat to transfer 12 Tremont crewmembers to the Drystan. The helicopter crew hoisted the Tremont captain from the sinking vessel.
The crew of the Tremont were taken by Coast Guard boat to Station Chincoteague with no reported injuries.
The MSC Rita had been on its way from New York to Charleston, according to marinetraffic.com, planning to arrive Saturday. There’s no word on whether the collision delayed its trip, but the Coast Guard reported no damage or injuries aboard the container ship.
Coast Guard leaders say without having the right people step in at the right time, the outcome of the collision could have been very different.
“Safety of life at sea is the Coast Guard’s top priority,” said Capt. Jennifer Stockwell, commander of Sector Virginia. “These are the life-saving missions for which we train each and every day. While this morning’s events were unfortunate, 13 people were rescued from an extremely perilous situation. The combined efforts of good Samaritans and Coast Guard response assets demonstrates a selfless commitment to others.”
What caused the container ship and fishing vessel to collide is still under investigation.
-Meg Walburn Viviano