US Coast Guard air and surface rescue crews at Sector San Juan in Puerto Rico responded to and assisted the distressed Ro-Ro vessel Island Express after it started taking on water on the afternoon (local time) of Wednesday, July 29.
The Cyprus-flagged vessel had just departed the Port of San Juan for storm avoidance in anticipation of an approaching tropical cyclone.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a Mayday VHF radio transmission from Island Express‘ captain, who reported that there was a possible broken pipe in the engine room and that approximately 75 per cent of the bilges were full of water.
Watchstanders directed the launch of two 10-metre small boats and a 13-metre response boat-medium from Station San Juan that got underway and arrived on scene. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter also arrived on scene, and the aircrew were able to maintain communications with the coast guard boat crews as they escorted the cargo ship in two- to three-metre seas back to the safety of the port.
Meanwhile, Sector San Juan Prevention personnel coordinated with the San Juan Bay Pilots and two Puerto Rico Towing tugs that rendezvoused with Island Express at the entrance of San Juan Harbor.
The tugs escorted Island Express to Pier 15, where the vessel safely moored and the crew were able to finalise dewatering of the bilge spaces.
No injuries have been reported among the Ro-Ro’s 18-strong crew.
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