A New Bedford-based fishing vessel sank Wednesday night off Martha's Vineyard, but its crew of four is fine thanks to their fast action in taking safety measures, the Coast Guard said.
The Sea Star radioed about 6:20 p.m. that it was quickly taking on water, listing heavily and crew members were donning their survival suits, Petty Officer Nicole Groll, a Coast Guard public affairs specialist said about 9:10 p.m. Wednesday.
A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter and plane from Sector Southeastern New England, in the area for a training exercise, were diverted to the scene, Groll said. Determining that the vessel couldn't be saved, the Coast Guard ordered the crew into the waters about 18 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, where they plucked them to safety via basket, she said.
The water temperature was 37 degrees, with 5-foot seas and 20 to 25 knot winds, making conditions difficult, Groll said.
The crew members were airlifted to Air Station Cape Cod where they were checked out by medical personnel and pronounced in good health, she said.
"The most important thing the crew did was to activate their EPIRB" (a positioning beacon) and don their survival suits, said Scott Backholm, the command duty officer at Sector Southeastern New England. While the EPIRB automatically goes off when a boat is sinking, the fact that they had the presence of mind to activate it before that "allowed us to get their exact location and get to them as quickly as possible," he said.
Groll said a safety marine alert was being sent to warn mariners in the area where the Sea Star sank of a possible debris field. She said she didn't immediately have information as to the size of the vessel or whether it was groundfishing or scalloping.
Here is a link to the Coast Guard video: www.dvidshub.net/video/584875/coast-guard-rescues-4-off-marthas-vineyard