The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thetis
rescued three shrimp fishermen this
morning at about 8:00 from the fishing vessel Dona Nelly after being in the water for 45 minutes when their vessel sank 15 miles off the coast of Brownsville, Texas.
The Thetis, a 270-foot cutter, was patrolling off the coast of Texas when it received word that a shipboard distress signal had been activated in the area. When crew of the Thetis arrived on scene, they found a debris field more than a mile in diameter filled with diesel fuel
and the remnants of the fishing vessel. The three crewmembers were found huddled together, hanging onto the hatch of a fish hold.
The three fishermen, aged 53, 23, and 20 were recovered with minor injuries and were treated for shock. The cause of the vessel’s sinking is unknown, but the master of the vessel reported the vessel’s bilge alarm sounded at 5:00 that morning, and he and his crew fought the progressive flooding for more than two hours before they were forced to abandon ship.
When the crew of the Thetis came upon them, one of the crewmembers still had the emergency position indicating radio beacon (the ship board distress signal) clutched in his hands.
“It's a lucky thing the Dona Nelly was equipped with proper lifesaving equipment, including an EPIRB because it would have been much harder to find them otherwise,” said Lt. Tony Russell, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District.
The Thetis is a 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported in Key West, Fla.