Missing Lobster Fisherman Rescued After 12 Hours At Sea Without Lifejacket

Mike Schuler
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July 24, 2013

John Aldridge is helped off a Coast Guard helicopter at Air Station Cape Cod, July 24, 2013, after spending roughly 12 hours floating off Montauk, NY. U.S. Coast Guard photo

The U.S. Coast Guard has located and rescued the missing crewmember of a commercial lobster vessel who had fallen overboard overnight while off the coast of Montauk.

John Aldridge, a crewmember of the 44-foot lobster vessel Anna Mary, was last seen aboard the boat during his watch relief at 9 p.m., Tuesday, while the vessel was underway off Montauk, N.Y.

Coast Guard watchstanders received a call from his fellow crewmembers at approximately 6:30 a.m., Wednesday, reporting that he had gone missing based on missed watch relief times and being unresponsive to callbacks from another fishing vessel at 4 a.m. Aldridge was reported to be not wearing a life jacket when he went missing.

Rescue crews from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York coordinated to develop and conduct a search pattern that covered more than 780 square miles, more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island, the Coast Guard said.

Amazingly, eight hours after the initial report, a Coast Guard helicopter located Aldridge floating some 36 nautical miles south of Montauk, N.Y. The air crew deployed a rescue swimmer who hoisted Aldridge to safety.

“This ending had a lot of people shaking hands and smiling,” said Lt. Joe Klinker, First Coast Guard District public affairs officer. “Reports of persons in the water often mean a difficult search is ahead. To hear the call that he was found and rescued makes it a proud day for those Coast Guard crews.”

Petty Officer Jetta Disco, a Coast Guard spokesperson, said that Aldridge had been in the water for roughly 12 hours after falling overboard, without a life jacket.

Aldridge told the helicopter crew he used his rubber boots for flotation. He was treated for dehydration, exposure and hypothermia and transferred to Falmouth Hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

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