USCG coordinates rescue of fishermen 1300 miles southwest of San Diego
The U.S. Coast Guard coordinated the rescue of two Mexican fishermen who were injured when their vessel’s crane collapsed more than 1300 miles southwest of San Diego in international waters, Friday, the USCG news release said.
The safety officer from the tuna fishing fleet Pesca Azteca contacted Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center watchstanders in Alameda, at approximately 8 p.m., Tuesday, reporting three people were injured, two severely, aboard the fishing vessel, Mazatun, after a crane collapsed while recovering nets.
Fishing nets obstructed Mazatun’s propellers during the incident and the boat was unable to transit under its own power. Therefore, the two severely injured fishermen were transferred to Mazatun’s sister ship, Tamara, who began transiting toward the nearest land, a Mexican naval outpost on Socorro Island. The Tamara was located more than 700 miles away from Socorro Island and would take two days to arrive.
Due to the far distance offshore, the inability to treat the life threating head and leg injuries, and long delay to receive proper medical care, watchstanders contacted the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and requested pararescue medical assistance. The 563rd Rescue Wing deployed aboard a Lockheed C-130 Hercules out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, along with a McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender tanker out of Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, at approximately 11 a.m., Wednesday, to rendezvous with Tamara as it was en route to Socorro Island.
Eight pararescuemen and an Air Force flight surgeon parachuted from the Hercules and arrived aboard Tamara at approximately 4:15 p.m. that day, and provided trauma care to the fishermen. The medical team was able to stabilize the injuries and they remained under the supervision of the flight surgeon for the voyage to Socorro Island.
Tamara arrived at Socorro harbor, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Friday, and transferred the two fishermen to the Mexican naval medical clinic on the island. The decision was made to keep the fishermen overnight and utilize an air ambulance that would transport them to Mazatlan, Mexico for further medical care Saturday.
“It was an honor to coordinate a very complex and challenging case with our USAF search and rescue counterparts,” said Douglas Samp, the RCC Alameda Search Mission coordinator. “Two lives were saved by the seamless inter-agency coordination and international cooperation with the Mexican navy; along with the Air Force 79th Rescue Squadron’s ability to provide a very unique capability of long-range emergency lifesaving support to the extreme outer edges of RCC Alameda’s boundaries.”
In 2018, RCC Alameda managed over 1,900 search and rescue cases, saved 400 lives and $7 million in property within a region that covers three million square miles of Pacific Ocean.