The U.S. Coast Guard swiftly sprang into action on Wednesday, rescuing a dozen terrified souls from a stricken cargo vessel off the coast of the Virgin Islands. Powerful waves had battered the 195-foot freighter Bonnie G onto the jagged rocks, holing its engine room below the waterline.
As seas roared and the wounded ship rapidly took on water, those aboard abandoned ship to two life rafts and a lifeboat. Spotting their desperate radio SOS, Coast Guard watchstanders in San Juan sprang into a race against time. Launching a special purpose craft, the crew sped to the scene amid crashing waves.
Reaching the stranded mariners, the Coast Guard heroes carried all 12 survivors to safety at Crown Bay Marina. Though untouched by injury, all had endured a harrowing ordeal. With the freighter still threatening to spill its toxic cargo into the pristine waters, the danger was far from over.
For onboard were a reported 13,000 gallons of fuel oil and 250 gallons of lubricants, plus six cars and cargo. Nowlisting perilously, the Bonnie G risked unleashing a marine pollution disaster. Moving swiftly, the Coast Guard partnered with local authorities and spill responders to evaluate the looming environmental threat.
Coast Guard commander Jose Diaz vowed, “One of our main priorities is to assess the pollution risk and ensure hazardous chemicals are removed as fast and safely as possible to protect these waters.” In a race against time and tide, all efforts were focused on preventing damage to the marine life and coastal habitats of the Virgin Islands.