New Coast Guard cutter Midgett responds to emergency, before commissioning

The new Coast Guard cutter Midgett towing a sailboat to safety. [Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard]

The Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, which left the shipyard in June and had not yet been commissioned, was transiting off North Carolina Saturday evening when the Coast Guard learned of a 70-year-old man in need of assistance aboard a 62-foot disabled sailboat, 50 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

“It was fortunate that a pre-commissioned Coast Guard cutter was the closest vessel and could be involved with its first search and rescue case, staying with the sailboat until a mission ready cutter arrived,” said Chief Petty Officer Ryan Langley, a watchstander at the 5th District. “The situation could have gotten worse overnight Saturday; the sailor hadn’t slept much, he was pretty far offshore and didn’t have navigation lights.”

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s 5th District command center received the initial notification that the sailboat lost power, and subsequently had no navigation lights. Personnel found that the pre-commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Midgett was 20 miles away and coordinated their response, as well as deploying the Coast Guard Cutter Nathan Bruckenthal to tow the sailboat.

The Midgett’s crew assisted the man by lowering the boat’s sails and preparing it for tow. They remained on scene until the Bruckenthal arrived.

On Sunday, the Bruckenthal crew took the sailboat into Cape Henry, Virginia, where the tow was transferred to commercial salvage and delivered to Cobb’s Marina.