RCAF Cormorant helicopter airlifts stranded boaters to safety
19 WING COMOX, B.C.— The crew of an RCAF Cormorant helicopter was called to assist four boaters who ran aground on rocks near Port Renfrew, B.C. after losing an engine on Tuesday morning, May 7, 2013.
The aluminum boat ran aground near the mouth of Port San Juan Inlet approximately 300 metres off shore and sent a distress call. The distress call was relayed through Coast Guard marine radio to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria shortly after 11:10 a.m. Rescue Coordinators tasked a Cormorant helicopter from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron,based at 19 Wing Comox to respond.
“The passengers and captain were all safe on the rocks, but had no way to get off safely,” said Search and Rescue Technician, Master Warrant Officer Gavin Lee. “We landed the Cormorant on the rocks and loaded the people on board.” They were then flown to shore near Port Renfrew.
In order to ensure the boat would not become a hazard to navigation at high tide, the helicopter crew returned to attach a towline to the craft, enabling a United States Coast Guard Cutter that had also been on its way to respond to the distress call, to recover the boat.
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.” With the exception of federally owned National Parks, the overall responsibility for ground search and rescue rests with the provinces, territories and municipalities. The Canadian Armed Forces may, however, provide assistance to land and inland water rescues when possible.