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Audio Available: Coast Guard rescues 3 boaters from Midnight Rocket on the Columbia River

May 13, 2015

A boater aboard the Midnight Rocket calls for help after reportedly hitting a navigational buoy on the Columbia River and starting to sink May 12, 2015.

The three boaters were able to safely ground their vessel on a beach near Skamokawa, Wash., where they were met by response boat crews from Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment and then safely taken to Cathlamet where they could arrange vessel salvage services.

U.S. Coast Guard audio by Sector Columbia River.

WARRENTON, Ore. — Coast Guard crews rescued three boaters from a beach near Skamokawa, Washington, after they reportedly hit a navigational buoy with their boat and began taking on water on the Columbia River, Tuesday night.

A rescue boatcrew from Station Cape Disappointment aboard a 29-foot Response Boat – Small II safely transported the boaters up river to Cathlamet.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received a mayday call on VHF-FM radio channel 16 at about 11 p.m., from the boaters aboard the Midnight Rocket, stating their situation. The watchstanders diverted an inflight MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria, and directed the launch of the Cape Disappointment boatcrews aboard the RBS-II and a 47-foot Motor Life Boat. 

“These boaters had the proper equipment and did exactly what they needed to do in an emergency, which was to call for help to ensure their safety,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Godsey, an operations specialist and Sector Columbia River watchstander. “Transiting the coastal and river waters here in the Pacific Northwest can be challenging due to weather, tides and currents. This is especially true at night when visibility can be greatly reduced. Cases like this highlight the reason boaters need to be prepared with essential safety equipment.” 

The helicopter crew arrived on scene with the crew of the damaged boat and directed them to a nearby beach where the boaters intentionally grounded their vessel avoid sinking and becoming a hazard to navigation.

Once safely aground, Cape Disappointment boatcrews aboard the RB-S II and a MLB worked with the boaters to assess the damage and attempt temporary repairs. The owner of the vessel is now responsible for arranging the vessel’s salvage.

Coast Guard crews have inspected all local buoys in the area of the incident. The Jim Crow Lighted Buoy 22A, located at mile 30 on the Columbia River, about five miles away from the grounded vessel, was found to be damaged. It sustained a one inch-by-eight-inch gash in its hull. The buoy remains in its proper position, however, it is in danger of sinking from the damage. Coast Guard crews are working to address the damage and any navigation issues will be broadcast on VHF-FM channel 16.

There were no injuries or pollution reported from the incident.

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