Four crewmen aboard the Sea Cypress, a 71-foot tugboat, prepare to disembark the sinking vessel and climb aboard a Sabine Pilot boat at the mouth of the Sabine Pass Ship Channel in Texas, March 31, 2023. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Tugboat Crew Uses Torch to Free Trapped Crewmen in Dramatic Rescue off Texas Coast

Mike Schuler
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March 31, 2023

A heroic rescue unfolded on Friday when the crew of a tugboat taking on water in Sabine Pass, Texas, used a handheld torch to free two trapped crewmen.

Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston command center watchstanders received a mayday call at 5:38 a.m. from the 71-foot towing vessel, the Sea Cypress, reporting that the tug was capsizing near the mouth of the Sabine Pass channel.

In response to the urgent marine information broadcast, a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Sabine was launched to the scene.

Meanwhile, two of the Sea Cypress crew members displayed remarkable ingenuity, using a handheld torch to cut a hole in the bulkhead and free two crewmen trapped in the partially submerged vessel’s galley.

The Coast Guard boat crew arrived shortly thereafter, taking all four tugboat crew members aboard and transporting them safely to Station Sabine. Jefferson County EMS personnel assessed the rescued mariners before transferring them to Southeast Texas Medical Center in Port Arthur, Texas, in stable condition.

Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ian Murray, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Houston-Galveston, praised the tugboat crew’s resourcefulness, stating, “We are glad that the tugboat crew was able to think outside the box and that we were able to quickly get all four of them to safety.”

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