USCG Declares Top Ten Rescues of the Century

Wednesday, January 26, 2000
A dramatic video of a horrifically overloaded Haitian migrant sailboat pitching 100 of its passengers into the water as the vessel capsizes en route to the U.S. depicts what the USCG has determined to be its top rescue of the century. For more than 210 years the USCG has been saving lives at sea around the world. The USCG released the video on a compilation tape that shows highlights of the service's top 10 rescues of the century. The rescue of the Haitian migrants thrown overboard is representative of the 255,937 migrants USCG has rescued from overcrowded, unseaworthy craft just since 1980. Many would have undoubtedly have lost their lives during these highly risky crossings had they not been intercepted by the USCG while trying to illegally reach U.S. shores. Including migrant rescues, the USCG has rescued more than 350,000 people in its tenure. Records from the U.S. Lifesaving Service, one of the modern day USCG's forerunners, list 178,741 lives saved between 1871 and 1914. Modern day USCG records detail 188,349 people saved between 1964 and 1998. Details of many other years' accomplishments are vague, including numbers from the USCG's oldest ancestor, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. The Top 10 Rescues video depicts as its number two case an amazing rescue of fishermen thrown overboard from their boat as a huge wave washes across the vessel's ice-covered deck. Other rescues occur off both coasts, the mid-Pacific, and overseas during World War II. The USCG dedicated this video and its Top 10 list to the seven servicement lost in the line of duty since 1995: three from a capsized motor lifeboat off the Washington coast in 1997 and four from a downed helicopter off Northern California in 1997.

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