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Coast Guard Aids in Rescuing Four from Sinking Tugboat in Texas

tugboat rescue
Four crew were rescued from the sinking tug (US Coast Guard photo)

Published Mar 31, 2023 8:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting that it was called out to aid with the rescue effort for four crewmembers working on a tugboat that began taking on water in Sabine Pass, Texas, Friday. Quick-thinking crewmembers from the vessel were able to extradite their colleagues that had become trapped on the vessel as it was sinking before the Coast Guard was able to reach the scene.

"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," said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ian Murray, search and rescue mission coordinator, Sector Houston-Galveston.

The report of a mayday signal on VHF-FM channel 13 was relayed to the Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston command center watchstanders. They received notification at 5:38 a.m. that the crew of the Sea Cypress, a 71-foot towing vessel, had issued the mayday reporting that they were capsizing while moored near the mouth of the Sabine Pass channel.

Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of a 45-foot Response Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Sabine to provide assistance.

A Sabine Pilot boat operator reported that two of Sea Cypress crew used a handheld torch to cut a hole in the bulkhead and free two crewmen that had become trapped in the partially submerged vessel's galley. They were able to pull their colleagues to safety as the vessel was pulling away from the dock and settling into the harbor. 

The Coast Guard boat crew arrived on the scene, took aboard the four tugboat crewmen, and brought them ashore to Station Sabine. The Coast Guard reports that Jefferson County EMS personnel assessed the four mariners and transported them to Southeast Texas Medical Center in Port Arthur, Texas, in stable condition.