Coast Guard crews rescued three sailors, all U.S. citizens, and completed a three-day tow of the stricken sailboat Valor to Puerto Rico on Sunday after it began to take on water in the Atlantic Ocean, at about 300 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico.
The 45ft vessel Valor was being delivered from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to the British island of Bermuda when it began to draw water from an unidentified source and the crew could not control the flooding, the Coast Guard said in a news release Monday. .
“I salute the investigative work of the personnel of the command center of the San Juan sector during the first communications with the Valor sailboat, which allowed us to quickly identify the distress situation and coordinate the appropriate response,” said the Lt Cmdr. Nestor Lazu Rivas, head of the command center. “Their quick actions enabled our resources to arrive on scene to assist and bring the sailors to safety. This case also underscores the importance of having proper communications equipment on board.
Coast Guard Sector San Juan watchmen received a call at 1 p.m. Thursday from the wife of the captain of the Valour, who reported distress and that her husband and two other male crew members needed assistance. , the statement said.
Coast Guard lookouts from Sector San Juan established communications with the captain, who reported that the vessel’s engine compartment was flooded and that they were attempting to manually drain the space, the statement said. Lookouts hijacked Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and coordinated the launch of an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Elizabeth City Air Force Station in North Carolina, he said.
Once there, the Coast Guard crew dropped two bilge pumps and a VHF radio to the crew of the sailboat. Valor’s crew identified two sources of flooding and stabilized the vessel using the bilge pumps to remove more than 1,700 gallons of water from the engine bay, the statement said.
The Coast Guard crew also established communications with the Cypriot-flagged 590ft freighter Smew, which turned away to provide assistance. The Smew remained on site with the Valor while cutter Joseph Tezanos made the 3 p.m. transit to arrive at the scene, according to the statement.
Once on the scene, around 4:30 a.m. Friday, the crew of the cutter launched their small boat to come aboard and set up a tow with the stricken sailboat and attempt repairs. The cutter completed towing the Valor Sunday morning 15 miles north of Puerto Rico, where a Sea Tow Puerto Rico vessel assisted and completed the tow to the Puerto del Rey marina in Fajardo, the statement said.
No injuries were reported in the incident, according to the Coast Guard.