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Buffalo and crew help Americans to rescue quartet from sunken boat

The crew of a Buffalo Search and Rescue airplane from CFB Comox helped the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Alaskan State Troopers to rescue of four American fishermen in a life raft.

The twin-engine Buffalo was on a return trip from Terrace when the crew picked up a radio request for help from the USCG. An 84-foot fishing vessel was taking on water Thursday south of Prince of Wales Island in Dixon Entrance along the B.C.-Alaska border.

“We got on scene just after midnight, within 25 minutes of the USCG’s call,” said aircraft commander Capt. Julian White. “We homed-in on the crew’s emergency beacon and quickly spotted the debris field from the sunken boat, as well as an emergency strobe light on the life raft.”

With other boats on their way to help, the Buffalo crew immediately began dropping smoke markers in the water, making a triangle around the raft to mark its position.

Once the raft’s position was marked on the water, the aircraft ascended to a higher altitude and began dropping parachute flares to illuminate the scene for the crew of an Alaskan State Trooper patrol boat, which recovered the uninjured fishermen.

Search and Rescue (SAR) incidents under the federal SAR mandate are defined as “all aircraft incidents and all marine incidents in waters under federal jurisdiction.

The Canadian Forces has an excellent working relationship with the United States Coast Guard and both organizations frequently co-operate during marine SAR operations along the west coast of Alaska, B.C. and Washington State.

-- 19 Wing Comox

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