Three fishermen from Orange Beach, Ala. were rescued early Thursday morning from the frigid waters of the Gulf of Mexico, after their 46 ft. Bertram sportsfishing vessel sunk for unknown reasons. Temperatures were well below freezing, but luckily for the men C-CHARIOT, a 220-ft. offshore supply vessel owned and operated by Edison Chouest Offshore, happened to be located only a mile from their location when disaster struck.
According to David Kent
, the captain of the fishing vessel Cat Man Dex, a favorable weather report prompted their late night fishing expedition. At approximately 12:59 am, their engine room began to take on water for unknown reasons. Kent and two others aboard, all from Orange Beach, Alabama, immediately inflated a life raft on deck and by the time they positioned themselves in the raft, their vessel had completely sunk under them.
Kent's crew fired a safety flare, spotted by the C-CHARIOT, which was located nearby, a position approximately 100 miles south of Mobile, Ala., and 85 miles east of Venice, La. According to Thomas Schmitz, captain of the C-CHARIOT, first mate James "Butch" Bryant
was on watch and spotted the flare.
The crew of the C-CHARIOT placed a call to the United States Coast Guard and began to head in the direction of the flare, which appeared at a very high elevation, leading crew members to believe that the distressed vessel was nearby. Within a matter of a few short minutes, the C-CHARIOT visually located the raft and the three cold and frightened fishermen inside.
The crewmembers of the Chouest vessel immediately provided warm clothes and a medical assessment upon their rescue at approximately 1:40 am. Within seven minutes the C-CHARIOT had reached block VK915, the location of British Petroleum's (BP) Marlin TLP platform. The rescued fishermen were cleared medically by a medic on the Marlin platform, and were housed there for the remainder of the night. According to the United States Coast Guard's Public Affairs Division in New Orleans, the three rescued fishermen were transported by helicopter back to Alabama late
The crew onboard the C-CHARIOT at the time of the rescue included Capt. Thomas Schmitz, Capt. James Bryant, Capt. John Howe, Chief Engineer David Dogan, Oiler Shawn Dykes, A.B. Irvin Vergin, A.B. Christopher Lee, and Cook Ginger Ledet.