Coast Guard Station Cape Charles Aids in Perilous Rescue

Helicopter rescue video has no sound, but can induce motion sickness! (Click bottom right for full-screen)

October 19, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in Cape Charles we are most likely to see resident Coast Guard personnel playing soccer in Central Park or jogging along town streets. The Wave is reprinting the following Coast Guard rescue report as a reminder that our neighbors’ “day job” can be a perilous one. On Thursday, October 10, in 40-knot winds, 12-foot seas, and inky darkness, the Coast Guard rescued two people from a disabled vessel by lowering a rescue swimmer from a helicopter who rigged a tow line to a Coast Guard vessel. Coast Guard Station Cape Charles participated in the mission.


Fast-moving storms blew through parts of the Eastern Seaboard last week, whipping maritime communities with heavy rain and high winds. True to form for Coast Guard men and women, the foul weather was no match for the perseverance of Coast Guard crews.

The Coast Guard responded to a sailboat sinking near the mouth of the Great Wicomico River and another sailboat northeast of Cape Charles that was also sinking.

Crew members aboard the 34-foot sailboat Basta contacted Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads’ command center reporting the boat was experiencing engine trouble, and they were unable to raise their sails or lower an anchor.

Hampton Roads watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and dispatched a rescue crew from Coast Guard Station Cape Charles and an aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

After being underway for approximately an hour, the boat crew was directed to return to base due to the high seas. The helicopter crew met a similar fate as they arrived on scene.


“It was very difficult to see; there was no illumination. Even with our night vision goggles it was very hard to see any reference visually,” recalled Lt. Jamie Carabin, pilot of the helicopter crew.

Due to 40-knot winds and 12-foot seas, the helicopter was unable to hoist the crewmembers from the sailboat. “Given the sea state, the mast would rock left and right and towards the aircraft which easily would have become a tangle hazard for the rescue swimmer as we got closer,” added Lt. Kirsten Jaekel, co-pilot on the mission.

The crew headed back to land to refuel, all the while formulating a new plan to keep these sailors safe. Back on scene once again, the aircrew deployed the swimmer to the Coast Guard rescue boat from Coast Guard Station Little Creek, where the swimmer could safely climb aboard the sailboat.

“In this period, the sailboat was actually drifting through the shipping channel and was getting pretty close to container ships,” said Carabin.

The routine training that occurs between boat and aircrews paid off as the swimmer transitioned smoothly to the sailboat and secured a towline. “They had a one-shot opportunity that once the swimmer was on board to throw one heaving line to the bow of the boat and rig the tow bridle as quickly as possible, otherwise they would be looking for second contingencies to get that vessel and the people off of it before it ran into the cargo ship,” said Jaekel.

The crew from Little Creek towed the boat safely back to land, where the two Basta sailors were evaluated by an ambulance crew.



2 Responses to “Coast Guard Station Cape Charles Aids in Perilous Rescue”

  1. Kearn Schemm on October 19th, 2013 11:52 am

    These guys are amazing! We can be proud to have them as part of the Cape Charles community.

  2. Melvin W Williams, Jr CWO USCG (Ret) on October 31st, 2013 5:21 am

    Gave the CG station Cape Charles their first anti-exposure suits when they first opened up over by the fish dock.

    It indeed makes me proud for I too was one of those guys. But what makes me even prouder is the fact is that I am a product of Cape Charles. Born, raised and educated from over the “Hump” Cape Charles Elementary School to Northampton County High School (class of 63) entering the Coast Guard in October 1963. Out of 12 enlisting, I was the only Afro-American for that period and the only candidate who passed the exam. Although times were very hard for a black man in the CG during that time, my background went from communications, ship board seamanship, medical, food services, aviation SAR, law enforcement, ending in maritime safety and inspections. The height of my career has been that as seen in that rescue video, because I was helo SAC qualified and a Aviation Survival man, better known at that time as an ASM> I’ve been there and done that. A long time ago, I had the opportunity to fly into Cape Charles and land on the old ferry parking lot downtown across the street from the bank. I visited several merchants who knew my family and a very dear friend and neighbor by the name of Ms. Jennet Johnson, to show how I overcame. I retired as a Chief Warrant Officer after becoming the first black to make E-7 in my rate among other accomplishments.