NOAA SHIP SAVES THREE
MARINERS FROM PERISHING IN STORMY SEAS
Through a combination of sharp eyes, vigilance
and sheer luck, three mariners
clinging to their capsized motor boat were plucked out of stormy
seas Sunday by crew members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration fisheries research ship Oregon II, NOAA
said today. The mariners -- who had been unable to send a distress
signal -- had been in the water for about five hours, and probably
would have perished if the ship hadn't passed nearby and seen
II was 25 miles out to sea off
Cape Canaveral heading toward the ship's
home port in Pascagoula, Miss., when the two men and one woman
were spotted. Their 25-ft. recreational boat had capsized in
six to eight-foot seas, and as there was no distress signal sent,
it was by chance that the Oregon II came close enough to see
and rescue them.
"I'm glad we were in the area, because
these folks were in dire straights.
They were experiencing every mariner's worst nightmare,"
said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Thompson, NOAA
Corps, commanding officer of Oregon II. "I'm proud of
my crew and how they responded to the emergency. Lt. Cmdr. Mike
Gallagher, NOAA Corps; Lead Fisherman Dave Nelson; and Fisherman
Gerald Koonce went out in a small rubber boat in extremely rough
seas and high winds, and pulled the three out of the water. We
treated them onboard the Oregon II for mild hypothermia and small
lacerations and they are all right now, but there's no doubt
in my mind that had Oregon II not been there, these people may
have perished at sea. They couldn't have lasted much longer."
Oregon II notified the Coast Guard of the
rescue, and transferred the mariners
to a Coast Guard cutter approximately an hour later.
The mariners were Dale Woodburn and Richard
McKinnon of Roseland and Stacey Marinelli of Sebastian.
As part of the NOAA fleet of research ships
and aircraft, Oregon II is operated and managed by civilians
and officers of the Office of NOAA Corps Operations, the nation's
seventh uniformed service. NOAA Corps officers -- all scientists
and engineers -- rotate throughout the agency, supporting NOAA's
programs at sea, on shore, and in the air.