SABINE PASS — An emergency radio beacon along with Jefferson County deputies helped save four shrimpers off Sabine Pass Tuesday after their boat capsized.
The U.S. Coast Guard in New Orleans received a distress signal from the 65-foot shrimp boat's "emergency position indicating radio beacon", or EPIRB, and launched a helicopter crew and a boat crew to the scene according to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard then sent out a radio broadcast with the boat''s location the release said.
A boat from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office "Marine Safety Patrol' unit was escorting a liquid natural gas tanker through the Sabine Pass Ship Channel when they heard the distress call broadcast at about 6:30 a.m. according to Captain Crystal Holmes of the sheriff's office.
Once it was confirmed that the sheriff's office boat was closet to the shrimp boat, the "Captain M & M," which was on the Louisiana side of the channel the sheriff's office boat headed to the scene Holmes told 12News.
The crew of the sheriff's office boat arrived before the Coast Guard and plucked the four shrimpers from atop the keel of the Captain M & M Holmes said.
Other than suffering a few bumps the shrimpers were uninjured and covered in diesel fuel Holmes said.
The captain of the stricken boat, which appeared to be a total loss, told deputies he and his crew were not familiar with the area and had hit the jettie wall.
Deputies then transferred the shrimpers to a boat from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Sabine once it arrived.
"Today the vessel's emergency position indicating radio beacon showed its importance and helped to save four lives," said Lt. J.G. Nelson, a Sector Houston-Galveston watchstander according to the release.
"The vessel's crew was not able to make radio contact or get their personal flotation devices on prior to the vessel capsizing, but the EPIRB did its job and notified the Coast Guard," he said in the release.
Deputy Reagan Baker with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit said shrimp boat rescues only happen about once a year. He said it's usually because shrimpers don't know the area.
"They don't know exactly where the jetties end or begin and on the Lousiana side the jetties are submerged in a lot of spots," said Baker.
Baker said it's important for both recreational boaters and shrimpers to know the area before going out on the water. He suggests making use of maps, taking it slowly, and making sure to always have life jackets available on board.
From a U.S. Coast Guard news release...
The Coast Guard assisted in the rescue of four crew members from a fishing vessel after it capsized near Sabine Pass, Texas, Tuesday morning.
Eighth Coast Guard District watchstanders in New Orleans received an emergency position indicating radio beacon signal from the 65-foot fishing vessel Captain M&M, which provided an approximate location of the vessel, and launched an Air Station Houston MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew.
Sector Houston-Galveston watchstanders launched a Station Sabine 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crew and sent out an urgent marine information broadcast with the vessel's location.
A Jefferson County Sheriff's Office boat crew arrived on scene after receiving the UMIB, rescued the four crewmembers from the water and transferred them to the 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat shortly after.
All four crewmembers were transferred to Coast Guard Station Sabine.
"Today the vessel's emergency position indicating radio beacon showed its importance and helped to save four lives," said Lt. J.G. Nelson, a Sector Houston-Galveston watchstander.
"The vessel's crew was not able to make radio contact or get their personal flotation devices on prior to the vessel capsizing, but the EPIRB did its job and notified the Coast Guard."
There were no reported injuries.