Coast Guard crews rescued three mariners, all U.S. citizens, and completed a three-day tow of the distressed sailing vessel Valour to Puerto Rico on Sunday after it started taking on water in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 300 nautical miles north of Puerto Rico.
The 45-foot vessel Valour was being delivered from Tortola, British Virgin Islands to the British island of Bermuda when it started to take on water from an unidentified source and the crew could not control the flooding, the Coast Guard said Monday in a press release.
“I commend the investigative work of Sector San Juan Command Center personnel during the initial communications with the sailing vessel Valour which allowed us to quickly identify the distress situation and coordinate appropriate response,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nestor Lazu Rivas, Command Center chief. “Their quick actions made it possible for our assets to arrive on scene to assist and bring the mariners to safety. This case also highlights the importance of having proper communications equipment onboard.”
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a call at 1 p.m. Thursday from the wife of the Valour’s captain, who reported the distress and that her husband and two other male crew members were in need of assistance, the release stated.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan established communications with the captain, who reported the vessel’s engine compartment was flooded and that they were trying to dewater the space manually, according to the release. The watchstanders diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos and coordinated the launch of an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina, it said.
Once on scene, the Coast Guard aircrew dropped two dewatering pumps and a VHF radio to the crew of the sailboat. Valour’s crew identified two sources of flooding and stabilized the vessel by using the dewatering pumps to remove more than 1,700 gallons of water from the engine compartment, the release stated.
The Coast Guard aircrew also established communications with the 590-foot Cyprus-flagged cargo ship Smew, which diverted to render assistance. The Smew remained on scene with the Valour while the cutter Joseph Tezanos completed the 15-hour transit to arrive on scene, according to the release.
Once on scene, at approximately 4:30 a.m. Friday, the cutter crew launched its small boat to go onboard and establish a towline with the distressed sailing vessel and attempt repairs. The cutter completed the tow of the Valour on Sunday morning to 15 miles north of Puerto Rico, where a Sea Tow Puerto Rico vessel rendered assistance and completed the tow to Puerto del Rey Marina in Fajardo, the release stated.
There were no injuries reported in this case, according to the Coast Guard.