Local Coast Guard Auxiliary Crew Decorated for Rescuing Two Boaters
On Sunday, 3 December, four Coast Guard Auxiliary boat crew members received the U.S. Coast Guard’s distinguished Award of Operational Merit for a successful lifesaving rescue at Port Canaveral that occurred last summer. Coast Guard Station Canaveral Auxiliary Liaison Officer Jack Miller praised the crew’s actions, “This is one of the highest awards that the Auxiliary has ever received here in Brevard County.”
Saturday afternoon 20 May 2017, while entering Port Canaveral, a large tanker assisted by two tugs found itself on a collision course. In the ship’s path was a recreational boat stalled in mid-channel, unable to move due to an engine failure.
Unable to stop in time, the tanker sounded five short blasts on their ship’s horn, signaling imminent danger: in this case, a collision. Fortunately, this alarm caught the attention of a Coast Guard Auxiliary crew on patrol in the port. Within two minutes, Auxiliary Patrol Boat Dream On was alongside the stranded bowrider with two boaters onboard. A side tow was quickly rigged, and the stricken boat was towed out of harm’s way, to the Jetty Park Boat Ramp.
According to crewman Rick Bloom, “It happened so fast, we didn’t have time to think about it. Our training kicked in, and we got the job done.” Crewman John Holmes, also on board, added, “The tanker was in the channel, with little room for maneuver. It couldn’t stop in time to avoid a collision. It was very fortunate that we were there.” Crewman Robert Caldo also assisted in securing the side tow, which was complicated by the recreational vessel’s lack of deck cleats.
The Patrol’s commander, AUX Coxswain Robert DiCicco, stated “We train constantly for various emergency scenarios. The port in particular is a very complex environment. The danger is always present, especially when you mix commercial vessels and recreational boats on a busy Saturday afternoon.”
The crew members being honored belong to Flotilla 07-17-06, which patrols Brevard County including the Indian and Banana Rivers, Port Canaveral, and adjacent Atlantic. Flotilla Commander Donna Miller commented, “We’re very proud of our local surface and air operations teams, who quietly, consistently, and professionally serve our boating public. The Auxiliary provides a tremendous service – more than 20,000 hours just in 2017, mostly here in Brevard County.”
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org