Category: Archive

News Briefs: Rescued Irish rowers can thank U.S. Coast Guard

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The duo, competing in the Atlantic Challenge race from the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean, had been experiencing rudder problems in heavy seas.
As a result, they could not turn their bow in order to meet a huge wave. The wave struck the boat on its side smashing it to pieces. The two men ended up in their life raft
“We jumped into the life-raft and just hoped that someone would get our SOS and manage to reach us,” Towey was quoted as saying in an Irish Independent report.
The two were rescued by a Spanish tanker.
“I couldn’t believe it when the tanker arrived – we were almost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and I thought we would have to wait a lot longer to be rescued,” Towey added.
The tanker did not arrive by chance, however.
The “Hispania Spirit” turned up as a result of AMVER, a system by which the U.S. Coast Guard can pinpoint the nearest vessel to an emergency on the high seas.
AMVER, or the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, was able to alert the tanker to the plight of the two Irishmen.
When their boat was destroyed, Lewis and Towey managed to get off a signal on their emergency position indicating radio beacon, or EPIRB.
The Rescue Coordination Center in Falmouth, England, received the distress message and contacted the Coast Guard, which in turn launched two Clearwater C-130 aircraft and diverted the Hispania Spirit, which was only 45 minutes from the last known position of the rowers.
According to the Coast Guard, the AMVER system is a voluntary, worldwide ship reporting system open to vessels of all flags.
Prior to sailing, participating ships send a sail plan, indicating their port of departure, port of destination, course, and speed to the AMVER computer center. Vessels then report every 48 hours until arriving at their port of call.
“In an emergency, any rescue coordination center in the world can request
this data from the United States Coast Guard to determine the relative position of AMVER ships near the mariner, vessel, or aircraft in distress,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“It’s a bit like herding cats but we recruit vessels and companies regardless of nation and flag. It’s all about mariners helping mariners,” Coast Guard spokesman, Ben Strong, told the Echo.

It was business as usual at Rory Dolan’s bar and restaurant in Yonkers this week.
This, after a fatal shooting outside the McLean Avenue venue last week that prompted a multi-department police investigation.
Two shots were fired by an off duty NYPD sergeant after a knife attack by a 20-year-old local man on a fellow officer.
The dead man, Peter Lee, had been ejected from Dolan’s only moments before the incident.
Lee was struck twice. The wounded officer was recovering from stab wounds this week and the incident was being investigated by both the Yonkers Police Department and the NYPD.
The NYPD officers involved had been drinking in Dolan’s after coming off a shift at their Bronx precinct.
McLean Avenue is the borderline between the Bronx and Yonkers, which is a city in its own right in Westchester County.
The incident prompted large-scale media coverage, not just of the shooting but also of Dolan’s, a big and hugely popular restaurant that has been the subject of a recent State Liquor Authority investigation due to alleged under age drinking violations.
Dolan’s was declining to comment on the shooting incident this week.

Runaway Boston gangster Whitey Bulger is now an 11-year veteran of the FBI’s most wanted list.
Bulger, whose whereabouts is still anyone’s guess, notched up an eleven on the lam last week.
Bulger is wanted in the deaths of 19 people between 1973 and 1985. One case involves the murder of John McIntyre, an admitted IRA gunrunner who disappeared in November 1984.
The last believed sighting of Bulger was in London in September 2002.
The Boston Globe reported a former associate of Bulger, Kevin Weeks, as speculating that the famous fugitive might be hiding in Europe, quite possibly in Germany, a country for which Bulger is known to have a particular liking.
The FBI has investigated possible Bulger sighting in 20 countries in the last year. Bulger is now 76 and the Bureau is posting an age-modified photo of him on its most Wanted website.
One of the supposed sightings was in an Irish pub – in Cambodia.

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