An HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter during air refueling
A defective engine that started a fire on board their 12-meter sailing yacht almost killed an experienced German crew consisting of father and son last Friday, 500 nautical miles off the coast of Florida. They were under engine on their way from the Caribbean towards Europe when suddenly thick smoke oozed from the engine room and flames quickly spread. Attempts to extinguish the fire, which was presumably caused by an oil leak, were unsuccessful, and one of the two suffered burns on his legs, so that all that remained was to make an emergency call and evacuate. With money and passports in hand, they boarded the life raft and then had to watch their boat burn in flames and finally sink.
Alerted by satellite phone and Epirb, the US Coast Guard in Miami asked the 920th Rescue Wing of Patrick Air Force Base, which specializes in rescue operations behind enemy lines and on the high seas, for help. What followed was a large-scale action that lasted about 16 hours in total, with more than 80 participants, two helicopters and two four-engine C130 transport aircraft. It was difficult to get in touch with the damaged parties due to their limited battery capacity, but in the late afternoon of Friday, a C130 parachuted six lifeguards and paramedics and a rescue raft over the scene of the accident.
Paramedics and lifeguards shortly before the jump over the scene of the accident
The lifeguards gave the two Germans first aid and then transferred them to the freighter "Nord Nightingale" from Singapore, which had left its course to provide assistance. From there, around 9 p.m. local time, the two were rescued by two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, which had arrived in the meantime and the castaways flew to Orlando, where they were taken to a hospital for further treatment in the early hours of Saturday morning were.
It was not routine for the volunteers of the 920th Rescue Wing either, because the two rescue helicopters only have a maximum range of 500 miles, so they had to be refueled in the air during the flight. "The two were lucky we found them quickly," one rescuer told YACHT online. "In the middle of the ocean with these injuries, at high temperatures and without having to endure a life raft without drinking water is very risky. Especially in waters where there are also sharks."
The freighter "Nord Nightingale" with the life raft in the background
After interrogation by the U. S. Border Guard and Immigration Services, one sailor remained under medical treatment while the second was staying at a nearby hotel.