At 10 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach Command Center received a notification that a Digital Selective Calling distress signal was activated in the vicinity of Santa Cruz. After making radio calls on VHF Channel 16, Coast Guard watchstanders were able to determine that the distress signal came from the LULA that ran aground with two persons aboard. The stranded mariners had abandoned their vessel while on the rocks and left it adrift. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach Command Center launched a helicopter from Forward Operating Base Point Mugu and a 45-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Channel Islands to conduct the rescue.
Once on scene, the helicopter and response boat crews determined that due to unsafe conditions on the rocks, the best course of action would be to rescue the mariners in distress via helicopter. They were safely hoisted aboard the helicopter and transported to Point Mugu.
“Thankfully, they had a DSC-equipped radio which is how we were able to locate them,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tate Lewis, a member of the helicopter rescue team. “We are grateful we were able to conduct a safe rescue and get them home to their families in time for Thanksgiving.”
DSC is a function available on many commercially available radios that, when activated and properly registered, sends a distress beacon and notifies the Coast Guard of the location of the distress.
“This case is a great example of why having multiple means to communicate distress to the Coast Guard is worth the investment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Quentin Long, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator at Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach. “Before the survivors were able to make a direct call to our command center and after abandoning their vessel, we had already received good locational data for a reasonable search area, based on the DSC alert.”
“We advise the boating public to familiarize themselves with this function on their radios, ensure the registration information is current, and use it if ever in distress,” said Long.