A Florida fishing boat captain was rescued after spending four hours treading water without lifejacket after he fell overboard off the coast of Panama City, Florida on Sunday.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile watchstanders received a notification at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday over VHF-FM channel 16 from a crewmember on the fishing vessel Fiona Leone reporting that the captain of the vessel fell overboard while the vessel was on autopilot approximately 12 miles south of Panama City.
Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and coordinated the launch of a Coast Guard Station Panama City 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew, a Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew and the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Diamondback to assist.
The Coast Guard said the captain was in the water for more than four hours without a life jacket before a good samaritan vessel, named New Beginnings, rescued him. The Station Panama City boatcrew convened with the New Beginnings and transferred the captain back to the Fiona Leone to safely navigate his vessel back into port.
The captain was last reported to be in good condition.
“We’d like to commend the crew of the New Beginnings on their vigilance and willingness to help,” said Capt. Cassie Kitchen, a Sector Mobile search and rescue mission coordinator. “To survive in the water without a life jacket as the captain did is difficult for anyone to accomplish. The Coast Guard continues to urge the boating public to practice safe boating by wearing life jackets, using kill switches and having the proper communication equipment such as a VHF-FM radio on board.”
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