Coast Guard rescues 3 from sinking boat near Hilton Head, continues to monitor for spills

info@islandpacket.comJanuary 13, 2014 

Three men on a sinking boat near Hilton Head Island were rescued by U.S. Coast Guard crews Saturday, and the Coast Guard continues to monitor the boat for possible fuel spills.

The 62-foot shrimp boat Christina Leigh began taking on water at about 3 p.m. Saturday, requiring rescue by the Coast Guard about an hour later near Calibogue Sound, a news release said.

The boat, which is believed to have run aground on a sandbar, is being monitored by the Coast Guard for environmental spills but is not leaking any of its nearly 280 gallons of diesel fuel, said Petty Officer Ben Meyer of Coast Guard Station Tybee Island.

The crew of the Christina Leigh had to use a cellphone to call Beaufort County dispatchers for help at 3:04 p.m. after the onboard VHF radio was damaged, the release said.

County dispatchers relayed the call for help to the Coast Guard in Charleston, which sent a 25-foot response boat from Tybee Island and a helicopter from Savannah.

The helicopter crew spotted the Christina Leigh at about 4 p.m., listing to the right and "being battered by surf," the release said. The crew was signaling the helicopter from the bow of their boat and was taken aboard the rescue craft at 4:06 p.m., the release said. No injuries were reported.

A man who answered at the Christina Leigh Shrimp Co. on Tybee Island said he was the former owner of the boat and was working with the Coast Guard to remove the boat. The man, who declined to give his name, said he hoped to remove fuel from the boat Tuesday and pull it off the sandbar Wednesday.

The man said the crew got lost in the fog before running aground on the sandbar. They were unable to remove the boat from the sandbar because of the surf and high winds.

The Christina Leigh was abandoned after the rescue because of an approaching storm, but it was surveyed Sunday for environmental problems. Meyer said a boat was headed to the Christina Leigh to check again for leaks and other environmental risks at about 1 p.m. Monday.

Coast Guard marine and pollution investigators will try to obtain a salvage plan from the owner, the release said.

Coast Guard rescues three off sinking fishing vessel near Calibogue Sound (1:34)

A Coast Guard helicopter crew directs a Coast Guard rescue boat crew to a sinking vessel Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, in the vicinity of Calibogue Sound. The Coast Guard rescued three mariners aboard the Christina Leigh, a 62-foot fishing vessel, which was taking on water. Video courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard

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