Five rescued after research seaplane ditches off Hatteras

By on August 26, 2018

The five people were transferred to the destroyer Mason. (U.S. DOD)

Alerted by the Coast Guard, the crew of a 754-foot cargo ship took five people aboard Saturday after a damaged seaplane was forced to land in the Atlantic 460 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras.

Uninjured, they were later transferred to a guided missile destroyer for the trip back to the U.S.

The seaplane originally left Elizabeth City Saturday morning. It made the emergency landing after hitting an object during takeoff and damaging the aircraft’s front node, according to a Coast Guard statement.

The plane was doing research for Johns Hopkins University, Petty Officer 3rd Class Shannon Kearney, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard 5th District, said Monday. It was not clear at what point in the trip the damage was done.

Everyone aboard put on their life jackets, the Coast Guard said.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s 5th District command center were alerted by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center and an HC-130 Hercules aircraft was launched from the Air Station in Elizabeth City.

The Coast Guard used the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System to divert the nearby 754-foot Liberian bulk carrier Polar Peru. The crew took the five people aboard Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy sent the destroyer Mason to rendezvous with the Polar Peru to shuttle the passengers back to the United States. The destroyer had been conducting operations with Carrier Strike Group 12, which is based in Norfolk.

Coast Guard personnel from station Mayport were scheduled to meet the Mason Monday morning to take the passengers to Mayport, Fla.

Lt. Daniel Dunn, the command duty officer at the 5th District command center, urged mariners enroll in Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System.

“We would also like to commend the crew on how prepared they were for an emergency situation,” he said in the statement. “They had all the required safety equipment, like life jackets, to ensure they would survive while response units were en route.”





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  • Stephen

    Question: If the plane hit an object while taking off from Elizabeth City, how did it make it all the way to 460 miles south east of the Cape?
    In any event, congratulation to the responders who saved five lives!!

    Sunday, Aug 26 @ 6:14 pm
  • Lisa

    Stephen- my exact thoughts!! They must have known that they hit something on take off, why wouldn’t they have looked into it then? Why continue out 460 miles?? This story had a happy ending thanks to the Coast Guard and the ship that had to veer off course to pick them up.

    Sunday, Aug 26 @ 7:40 pm
  • James

    It is a seaplane. So I’m guessing they landed out there and were taking off from the water when they hit something.

    Sunday, Aug 26 @ 11:44 pm
  • Frank

    They landed out in the ocean to conduct some experiments and when they took off they hit something.

    Monday, Aug 27 @ 8:22 am
  • John

    Great job (as usual) CG!

    Monday, Aug 27 @ 9:35 am
  • Steve

    What kind of plane was it?

    Monday, Aug 27 @ 2:50 pm
  • Tom Clarke

    It is a Grumman Albatross, aka HU-16.

    Wednesday, Aug 29 @ 1:18 pm
  • robert schuster

    spent 8 years in USCG in E city and qualified flight mechanic on the ol HU-16. Very strong aircraft with many hours on this aircraft. Have landed with one engine in emergency. Loved flying this plane. People were lucky to be in such a tough plane.

    Monday, Sep 3 @ 7:10 am