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Recent Updates for U.S. Coast Guard Digital Newsroom

Coast Guard, local fire department rescue man near Yaquina Bay, Ore.  Follow link

January 30, 2015 12:34 am

NEWPORT, Ore. — Coast Guard crews assisted local agencies in rescuing a man with a reported back injury from South Jetty in Yaquina Bay, Thursday.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, from Coast Guard Air Facility Newport, assisted in rescuing a 50-year-old man by hoisting him from the jetty and transferring him to Lincoln County Fire Department personnel in a nearby parking lot.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector North Bend received a call around 4:15 p.m. from Lincoln County Fire Dispatch operators requesting assistance in evacuating a man who had reportedly fallen and suffered a spinal injury.

A 25-foot Response Boat-Small crew launched around 4:17 p.m. from Coast Guard Station Yaquina Bay, arrived on scene 15 minutes later and assessed the situation.

The Dolphin crew arrived on scene around 5:24 p.m., hoisted the man from the jetty and safely delivered him to the ambulance in the parking lot after a landing space had been sectioned off by the boat crew.

"Working together we were able to quickly determine the best course of action," said Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Benetka, duty personnel at Station Yaquina River. "Cases like this highlight the great relationships we have in working with local responders to ensure the safety of those in need."

The man was transported from the parking lot by ambulance to the Newport Hospital.

Video Update: Coast Guard medevacs woman aboard cruise ship off NC coast  Follow link

January 29, 2015 10:06 pm

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, medevacs an ailing woman from a cruise ship Thursday, Jan. 29, 2014, approximately 220 miles southeast of Portsmouth, Va. The crew took her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va. U.S. Coast Guard video by Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced an ailing woman from a cruise ship Thursday approximately 220 miles southeast of Portsmouth.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard 5th District command center in Portsmouth received a call from the Bahama-flagged, 965-foot cruise ship Norwegian Gem at approximately 11:45 a.m., requesting a medevac for a 66-year-old passenger experiencing complications from diabetes.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, launched at approximately 1:35 p.m.

The helicopter crew arrived on scene at approximately 2:20 p.m., hoisted the woman to the helicopter and took her to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk where she was last reported to be in stable condition.

Coast Guard assists disabled New York vessel  Follow link

January 29, 2015 7:01 pm

NEW YORK – The Coast Guard responded to a disabled recreational vessel east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, today.

At approximately 1:05 p.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New York command center in Staten Island, New York, received a report that a 25-foot recreational vessel with one passenger aboard was disabled and adrift 3-miles east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

A rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook arrived on scene and towed the disabled vessel to Sheepshead Bay, New York, where another vessel took control of the tow.

“When operating in the harsh winter weather conditions of New York and New Jersey, having the right gear is extremely important,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Heller, a member of Station Sandy Hook. “Before going out on the water it is vital to ensure you have the right gear, and that all of the gear is in good working order.”

No injuries have been reported.

Each year, Coast Guard crews in the Northeast conduct 2,500 search and rescue cases and save 350 lives. With more than 2,000 miles of shoreline to guard, First Coast Guard District crews remind boaters to wear their lifejackets and be prepared with all required safety gear. For more information, visit

PHOTOS/VIDEO: US Coast Guard, Buffalo Police Department, US Border Patrol test response to active shooter during exercise  Follow link

January 29, 2015 4:49 pm

Photo of active shooter exercise Photo of active shooter exercise
Photo of active shooter exercise Photo of active shooter exercise
Photo of active shooter exercise Photo of active shooter exercise
Photo of active shooter exercise Photo of active shooter exercise
Photo of active shooter exercise Photo of active shooter exercise

Click HERE for video from the exercise.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The U.S. Coast Guard, in collaboration with the Buffalo Police Department and U.S. Border Patrol, conducted a mock active shooter response exercise today at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo.

The exercise, which began at 9 a.m., involved a mock active shooter-style attack on local Coast Guard units.

Law enforcement partners from around Buffalo quickly activated a unified response and neutralized the threat. Numerous people simulated being killed or injured during the exercise, which was aimed at testing response capabilities of Coast Guard and local emergency response crews.

The goal of this exercise was to assess local and regional response plans and identify ways to improve unified regional response capabilities. Active shooter and other fast-paced emergencies require collaboration, preexisting relationships and familiarity between law enforcement and response agencies.

“Improvement of these fundamentals is vitally important," said Capt. Brian Roche, commander of Coast Guard Sector Buffalo. "This exercise will reinforce and strengthen those existing solid relationships within the law enforcement community and provide stronger response strategies for the future.”

For more information please contact Coast Guard Sector Buffalo Public Affairs Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Garrant at 716-843-9317.

Coast Guard interdicts another Mexican fishing crew poaching in the Gulf of Mexico  Follow link

January 29, 2015 3:20 pm

Interdicted lancha 50 red snapper
A lancha and 196 pounds of of red snapper were interdicted Jan. 27, 2015. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Coast Guard interdicted a Mexican fishing crew poaching red snapper in the waters off South Texas late Tuesday night.

At approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Coast Guard Cutter Steelhead’s crew was on a patrol and sighted a Mexican fishing boat, also known as a lancha, on radar in U.S. waters. The Steelhead launched a law enforcement team from their small boat who confirmed and interdicted the lancha without pursuit, 40 miles offshore and 12 miles north of the maritime border.

The lancha had 50 red snapper weighing 196 pounds, four people, and fishing gear aboard the vessel when it was stopped. The Steelhead towed the lancha to Coast Guard Station South Padre Island. All persons were turned over to Customs and Border Protection.

Since Oct. 1, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have detected 93 lanchas, all of which were suspected of poaching in U.S. waters. The Coast Guard has interdicted 11 of them.

"It is dangerous for our law enforcement personnel to chase after lanchas illegally fishing in U.S. waters," said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Allen, chief of law enforcement for Sector Corpus Christi. “The master of the lancha made a wise decision by complying with the Steelhead's directions to stop.”

If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact Texas Parks and Wildlife “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-6393.

Coast Guard cautions boaters of unsafe reef lights in Florida Keys  Follow link

January 29, 2015 3:11 pm

MIAMI — The Coast Guard is directing mariners to not climb historical reef lights in the Florida Keys due to their deterioration and unsound structural integrity.

These lights include:

  • Alligator Reef Light
  • American Shoal Reef Light
  • Carysfort Reef Light
  • Sand Key Reef Light
  • Sombrero Key Reef Light

While these structures are not at risk of collapsing, they have been determined to be unsafe for climbing.

Due to extensive deterioration of the structures, cost to repair them and the inability to safely maintain them as navigational aids, the Coast Guard plans to shift current lighting from Alligator, American Shoal and Sombrero Key Reef Lights to more cost effective structures with more reliable lighting equipment. These new structures are designed to reduce the environmental footprint in the area.

The historical structures are not scheduled to be removed. To date, conversions of Carysfort and Sand Key Reef Lights have been completed. Plans to transfer the historic structures to the General Services Administration continue.

The new aids to navigation are designed to provide more cost effective operation and maintenance than the existing reef lights. The new lights will be built at an estimated cost of $100,000. Estimates to repair the existing historic structures would have cost taxpayers approximately $2 million per light.

The sites for the new aids to navigation have been approved by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and do not pose an environmental risk.

As a reminder, boaters are prohibited from tying off to, climbing, anchoring to or trespassing on any aid to navigation.

For public comment please email the Coast Guard 7th District Waterway Management Branch or contact Lt. j.g. Peter Bermont at (305) 292-8744.

Chicago woman pleads guilty for making hoax distress call in 2013  Follow link

January 29, 2015 12:37 pm

CHICAGO – A Chicago woman pled guilty to making a false distress call nearly two years ago which led to several agencies launching a dangerous search and rescue operation in Lake Michigan off of Rogers Park Beach, the U.S. Attorney and Coast Guard announced, Thursday.

Leona Chewning, 24, was charged earlier this month with one count of communicating a false distress message to the Coast Guard.

In pleading guilty, Chewing admitted that she knowingly and willfully communicated a false distress message to the Coast Guard and caused the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help was needed, a violation of Title 14, United States Code, Section 88c. She pled guilty today at her arraignment before U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle in Federal Court in Chicago.

Today’s announced guilty plea was made by Zachary Fardon, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Capt. Nicholas Bartolotta, chief of response for the Ninth Coast Guard District.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Feb. 4, 2013, Chewning called Chicago 911 from Rogers Park Beach stating a person was in distress in the icy water just off a seawall. An ice rescue team from Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor responded by land.

A Coast Guard air crew also launched aboard a Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Traverse City, Michigan. Members of the Chicago Police and Fire departments also responded with personnel and assets.

Chicago Fire Department divers entered the water near the location where Chewning claimed a person fell in, but did not locate anyone. Chewning admitted that at the time she made the call, she knew her report was false. The case was subsequently turned over to the Coast Guard Investigative Services and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“False distress calls like this one tie up valuable assets and put our crews at risk since we take every distress call seriously,” said Bartolotta. “They impede the ability of first responders like the Coast Guard and our partners to respond to real distress where lives may be on the line. We want to make sure people know the dangers and consequences of knowingly making a hoax call.”

“Hoax calls are costly and risky for the responding agencies and the personnel who put their lives on the line to save others," said Fardon. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Coast Guard will prosecute those who needlessly make false rescue reports and hold them accountable for their crime.”

Coast Guard response helicopters and boats can cost more than $10,000 and $4,000 per hour respectively to conduct search and rescue operations.

Intentionally deceiving the Coast Guard is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of six years in prison, a $250,000 fine and reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search. This search cost the Coast Guard $13,613.

Chewning is free on her own recognizance while awaiting sentencing on April 22.

Her plea agreement anticipates an advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines range of 4 to 10 months incarceration, and the court must impose a reasonable sentence.

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