The Coast Guard rescued five people from a life raft late Monday after a fishing boat sank approximately 20 miles offshore from the mouth of the Umpqua River. The captain aboard the 67-foot fishing vessel Desire, homeported in Neah Bay, Washington, used a VHF-FM marine-band radio to hail Coast Guard Sector North Bend watchstanders at about 9 p.m. Monday and report their vessel was taking on water. He also reported the five people aboard were preparing to abandon ship into a life raft.
Additionally, Desire’s registered emergency position indicating radio beacon was activated by contact with water and the vessel’s location and owner information was transmitted to Coast Guard watchstanders at the 13th District Command Center in Seattle. Rescue helicopter crews from the Coast Guard air facility in Newport and the Coast Guard air station in North Bend, and 47-foor Motor Lifeboat rescue boatcrews from Coast Guard Stations Siuslaw River and Umpqua River deployed to help the people in distress.
Once on scene at about 9:30 p.m., the helicopter crews located the survivors in the life raft and deployed rescue swimmers to facilitate hoisting the survivors. The helicopter crew from Newport rescued three survivors, and the helicopter crew from North Bend rescued two survivors. The station’s boatcrews remained on scene to assist as needed.
"The fishing boat's crew all had survival suits, properly deployed their survival raft, and shot two flares to assist us in locating them,” said Lt. Conor Regan, a helicopter pilot from Coast Guard Air Station North Bend. “Their overall preparation serves as an example for other mariners, as it was fundamental to the positive outcome of their potentially life-threatening situation.”
Additionally, Regan added that the EPIRB’s transmission of information allowed watchstanders to corroborate details of the choppy radio distress hail and expedite rescue coordination.
Following the successful hoists of all five people from the life raft, the survivors were taken to Air Station North Bend where their care was transferred to awaiting emergency services personnel. There were no serious injuries reported.