A dramatic rescue saves more than 30 crew members from a sinking ship off Nova Scotia

More than 30 crew members were rescued via helicopters and naval vessels after a fire erupted on their ship roughly 130 miles from the Canadian coastline, according to a statement from the US Coast Guard.

Crews from the US Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Air Force responded after being notified Tuesday night that a 143-foot vessel, the Atlantic Destiny, was dealing with a blaze and was taking on water, according to the statement.

After locating the stricken ship, a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter crew from Nova Scotia dropped two search-and-rescue technicians onto the fishing vessel to assist with de-watering using pumps, the US Coast Guard said. The helicopter crew also hoisted six crew members off the ship.

“This is the most challenging conditions for hoisting I’ve seen in my entire career,” Lt. Travis Christy of the US Coast Guard, who participated in the rescue, said Wednesday. He noted the rescue teams faced up to 33-foot waves and sustained winds of 40-50 knots (46-57 mph).

The two US Coast Guard helicopter crews hoisted another 21 Atlantic Destiny crewmembers to safety, leaving a skeleton crew to try and keep the ship afloat, the US Coast Guard said. After efforts to remove the water using pumps failed, the remaining crew and technicians disembarked onto a Canadian Coast Guard ship. The Atlantic Destiny later sank with no one on board.

“This is a SAR (search-and-rescue) case that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, I’m probably not going to see something like this again,” said US Coast Guard avionics electrical technician Phillip Morales, who was part of the rescue team. He credited his team’s thorough training yet added, “when we get there, you never know what the variables are.”

All of the rescued crew members were taken to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for medical treatment, the US Coast Guard said.

The Atlantic Destiny is one of Ocean Choice International’s six offshore fishing vessels, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“While we are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our offshore fishing vessels we are extremely relieved and thankful that all of our 31 crew members were safely transported ashore and are currently in the process of reuniting with their families and loved ones,” said Martin Sullivan, the CEO of Ocean Choice International.

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