Working on the high seas is inherently dangerous and circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. Such was the case on Wednesday afternoon for the crew of the 200-foot fishing vessel Ventuari.
As Ventuarit’s crew hauled in their catch approximately 1,200 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the vessel’s boom collapsed, landing on and injuring four of the crewmembers.
On patrol in the region, Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau was immediately diverted to assist the Ventuari. Making its best possible speed, the 378-foot cutter arrived on scene early Friday, launched its interceptor boats, triaged the four fishermen and medically evacuated two of the men to the cutter. Morgenthau will transport the two injured men to medical personnel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The other two fishermen’s injuries did not require immediate evacuation and they remained aboard the Venezuelan-flagged Ventuari.
“The ability of a high-endurance cutter like Morgenthau to instantly shift from a counter-drug patrol to providing life-saving assistance so far offshore demonstrates one of the Coast Guard’s greatest strengths,” said Capt. Anthony Gentilella, commanding officer of Morgenthau. “We are all grateful we have a ship capable of helping fellow mariners in distress. The flawless transfer of these injured men and the expert care they’ve received is a credit to the ship and to the flexibility, compassion, and dedication to duty of my crew.”
The Morgenthau, homeported in Alameda, Calif., and equipped with both small boats and a helicopter for a variety of missions, is in the Eastern Pacific on a law enforcement patrol interdicting illegal drugs in the transit zone between South and North America. With a combination of long range, speed and the ability to withstand extreme weather, larger Coast Guard cutters like Morgenthau conduct long-range counter-narcotics missions, alien migrant interdiction operations, domestic and international fisheries protection patrols, search and rescue missions, and military operations.
The Coast Guard is in the process of replacing Morgenthau, commissioned March 10, 1969, and the service’s other ‘Secretary-class’ high-endurance cutters with the new ‘Legend-class’ national security cutters. Coast Guard officials point out that the new vessels, two of which are already in the fleet, will allow the Coast Guard to continue providing its unique blend of military capability, federal law enforcement authority and life-saving expertise throughout waters of U.S. interest well into the future.
“The missions performed by this ship are essential,” Gentilella said. “A cutter draws its life from her crew, and Morgenthau is decades older than many of the men and women who must work increasingly hard to keep her aging systems operational. I’m proud of their work and pleased to see a new era of cutters entering service to carry on the proud traditions of Morgenthau and her sister ships.”