Coast Guard Boat Flips During Rescue, Crew Swims to Safety

A 25-foot Coast Guard vessel flipped over early Thursday while assisting a fishing boat that ran aground off a New York City beach, resulting in dramatic rescue efforts but no serious injuries, authorities said.

Five Coast Guard crew members, wearing protective gear, swam ashore at the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens after their boat capsized in 10 to 12 foot waves following an overnight storm, according to spokeswoman Ali Flockerzi. The response boat typically can only withstand 6-foot waves.

An orange Coast Guard helicopter dispatched from Atlantic City lowered ropes to pluck seven fishermen off the 76-foot scallop trawler which rocked violently in crashing waves near the shore. They were taken to a hospital for observation.

The events unfolded after the Coast Guard got a distress call at 2 a.m. from the Carolina Queen III. The fishing boat initially was taking on water. Its crew got that under control, but then ran aground.

"We had 10 to 15 foot seas off the coast here. This boat has been at sea for eight days," said FDNY Battalion Chief Anthony Scully. 

The capsized Coast Guard boat eventually drifted to shore and was secured.

"All mariners were secure" by 7 a.m., Flockerzi said.

The agency says it is looking into the incident to see what it can do better to prevent other boats from capsizing in the future.

"There's such an inherent risk in everything we do in the maritime domain that really, you have to be ready for everything," said Matthew Richards of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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