COAST GUARD SEARCHING FOR MISSING SAILING VESSEL
Date: June 15, 2006
Contact: Petty Officer Lisa Hennings
COAST GUARD SEARCHING FOR MISSING SAILING VESSELBOSTON - Coast Guard aircrews are searching for the sailing vessel Free Spirit, with four persons aboard, which is approximately 200 nautical miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia today.
The Coast Guard received a call at 11:55 a.m. today from the stepdaughter of Jacek Bielecki, the operator of the sailing vessel Free Spirit, stating that the vessel and crew were in distress and needed to be rescued immediately.
While en route to Europe from Newport, R.I., Bielecki, a 56-year-old United Kingdom citizen and Newport, R.I. resident, made a distress call to his stepdaughter via satellite phone and provided the vessel's coordinates. There has been no further communication with the vessel's crew.
The three other passengers aboard the Free Spirit include:
- Jack Bielecki, a 19-year-old UK citizen
- Richard White, a 34-year-old UK citizen
- Molly Finn, a 21-year-old U.S. citizen and Newport, R.I. resident
Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod launched an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and HU-25 Falcon jet at 12:45 p.m. to search for the Free Spirit. Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City has launched a C-130 and the Boston-based Cutter Spencer has been diverted to join the search and rescue efforts. Thus far, the sailing vessel has not been found.
Simultaneous to this search and rescue effort, the Canadian-flagged, 43-foot sailing vessel Dad's Dream was reported to be taking on water approximately 115 nautical miles south of Halifax today.
The Canadian Air Force and Coast Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard have been conducting joint search and rescue efforts for both sailing vessels.
While unable to locate the Free Spirit, the Falcon crew located the Dad's Dream with a broken mast and the three passengers aboard. The aircrew dropped a dewatering pump to the vessel. With a Canadian C-130 providing cover, a Jayhawk aircrew will attempt a hoist rescue once the weather conditions calm.
Seas are reported to be 23 to 30 feet, the winds are reported to be 50 to 90 knots.