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WADS helps rescue crew of sinking boat

Post by Scott Fontaine on Sep. 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
September 17, 2009 4:04 pm

The Western Air Defense Sector collaborated with the U.S. and Canadian coast guards to rescue two men whose fishing boat sank off the coast of Cape Alava, Clallam County, on Wednesday.

The Canadian Coast Guard first received a mayday call shortly before 1 p.m. that the 34-foot, wooden-hull Moonbeam was taking on water. Radio operators transferred the call to the U.S. Coast Guard base in Port Angeles.

A crew member said he was going to abandon ship. The Western Air Defense Sector, a Washington Air National Guard unit at McChord Air Force Base tasked with monitoring the airspace of more than half of the United States, redirected a Navy P-3 Orion aircraft to the area.

Information from the Orion helped direct rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard. The airplane circled the area until a Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopter arrived from its base in Port Angeles. Two nearby Coast Guard stations also sent 47-foot motor lifeboats to assist; the men climbed into one of the lifeboats and were taken to LaPush.

WADS helped coordinate a common radio frequency and established a proper altitude separation for the helicopter and Orion.

The boat sank about 600 feet below the surface.

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