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Mariners use torch to free crewmates from sinking tug

The Coast Guard assisted four people aboard a tugboat taking on water in Sabine Pass, Texas, Friday.

Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston command center watchstanders received notification at 5:38 a.m. that the crew of the Sea Cypress, a 71-foot tug, hailed mayday on VHF-FM channel 13 and reported that the vessel was capsizing while moored near the mouth of the Sabine Pass channel.

Watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Coast Guard Station Sabine.

An on-scene Sabine Pilot boat operator reported that two of the Sea Cypress crew used a handheld torch to cut a hole in the bulkhead and free two crewmen trapped in the partially submerged vessel’s galley. The Coast Guard boat crew arrived on scene, took aboard the four tugboat crewmen and brought them ashore to Station Sabine.

Jefferson County EMS personnel assessed the four mariners and transported them to Southeast Texas Medical Center in Port Arthur, Texas, in stable condition.

“We are glad that the tugboat crew was able to think outside the box and that we were able to quickly get all four of them to safety,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Ian Murray, search and rescue mission coordinator, Sector Houston-Galveston.

According to its Morgan City, La., based operator, Garber Bros Inc., the Sea Cypress is a 2014-built, 2,400 hp class offshore tug.

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