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Sailors Saved from Cold Bay

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted two men from the sinking 35-foot sailing vessel Rafiki 230 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska, early Wednesday morning.

The Jayhawk aircrew then rendezvoused with an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew in Sand Point, Alaska. The Hercules crew transported the men to awaiting EMS in Kodiak.

Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders in Juneau received notification Tuesday evening from Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu, Hawaii, watchstanders that an amateur radio operator had established communications with the Rafiki. 17th District watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast, requested the launch of the Hercules and Jayhawk crews and diverted the Rising Sun, an Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System vessel, to assist. Watchstanders also directed the men on the Rafiki to activate their emergency position indicating radio beacon and to keep it with them and remain with the vessel as long as possible.

The Hercules aircrew arrived on scene, established communication with the two men and dropped survival suits to them. The aircrew remained on scene until the men were safely hoisted into the Jayhawk.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, issued a hazard to navigation broadcast for the Rafiki.

“This case emphasizes the importance of proper survival gear for the harsh and challenging Alaskan environment,” said Adam De Rocher, a senior search and rescue controller at Coast Guard District 17. “The more prepared the better. Boaters making long transits are encouraged to have survival suits and life jackets for each person aboard, a life raft, a communication device such as a satellite phone, flares and an EPIRB. These items increase boaters’ chances of survival in an emergency situation.”

Weather on scene was reported as 7-mph winds and 6-foot seas.

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