Coast Guard Rescues 4 Passengers from Vessel After Autopilot System Fails

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U.S. Coast Guard members moor up the 45-foot Response Boat - Medium 45601 at Station Little Creek
U.S. Coast Guard members moor up the 45-foot Response Boat - Medium 45601 at Station Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Virginia, Mar. 27, 2018. (Joshua L. Canup/U.S. Coast Guard)

The United States Coast Guard rescued four passengers from a disabled sailing vessel that veered into the path of a container ship Monday morning.

The 48-foot vessel named “Irish Tango” was seen sailing about 2 miles east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at about 2 a.m. Monday. A good Samaritan called the Coast Guard to report the vessel was sailing erratically and impeding oncoming traffic in the Thimble Shoal Channel, according to the Coast Guard.

The vessel was seen “crossing back and forth across the bow of a container ship” and did not respond to multiple attempts to communicate with them by the Coast Guard, the container ship and others.

A Coast Guard response boat towed the Irish Tango to its station at Little Creek, and the crew was taken to Cobbs Marina for evaluation. There were no injuries.

The initial investigation revealed the vessel had been on the water for the previous 48 hours without a working autopilot system, and the crew was knocked off course by weather.

“This crew was lucky,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Anderson, the coxswain on duty at the Coast Guard’s Little Creek station. “Fatigue can be just as dangerous as any storm or hazard to navigation. On the water things don’t often go like you planned, so always have a back-up plan.”

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