Francis Redmiles MASTER
Philadelphia PA

Jeff Werler
Feastaerville , PA

Francis Gessler
Media PA

Todd Carpenter
Levittown PA

John A Werler
Feastaerville PA

Kenneth Arters
Chestersprings PA

Thomas Tuscano
Feasterville PA

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.- Three men who survived two days adrift at sea are transported to safety aboard a Coast Guard rescue helicopter Monday, Sept. 25, 2006.
The men, seven in all, were aboard the fishing vessel The Chief when it reportedly sank off the coast of Delaware.
The rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, including Petty Officer 2nd Class Tye Conklin (pictured), launched this morning and located the seven men in a raft about 70 miles offshore.
Also involved in the search were crews aboard a Coast Guard C-130 search airplane and the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma. The men were transported to the Tahoma for transit ashore.
U.S. Coast Guard photograph courtesy Air Station Atlantic City

From the AC Press:
A.C. crew rescues 7 adrift in Atlantic
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712
Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2006
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP ? Seven recreational fishermen spent two days and nights on the open ocean in a tiny life raft before being plucked from the sea Monday by a U.S. Coast Guard crew based in Atlantic County. The men survived the sinking of their 52-foot sport fishing boat, The Chief.
?This is a miracle,? Thomas Tuscano, of Feasterville, Pa., the father of one of the survivors, said Monday after a long vigil. The custom-built fishing boat went down at 11 a.m. Saturday after striking an unidentified object and taking on water, the Coast Guard said. The Pennsylvania men were returning to a marina in Indian River Inlet in Delaware after a night of tuna fishing about 30 miles off the coast of Cape May. There was a small-craft advisory for the area effective early Saturday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The seven friends and Philadelphia tradesmen had time to grab only life jackets, four small bottles of water and a box of flares before their boat sank, stranding them on open water in a four-man raft the size of a dinner table. The Coast Guard launched a search Sunday after family reported the boating party overdue. A four-man crew departed at about 8:30 a.m. Monday from Atlantic CityInternationalAirport in EggHarborTownship in a twin-engine HH-65 Dolphin helicopter to join the search.
About 38 minutes later, on just the second pass over the search grid, flight mechanic Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Petricca spotted white smoke as the helicopter sped 1,500 feet over the ocean surface.
?I contemplated not saying anything. It looked that much like a cloud,? he said.
Instead, it was the remnants of a signal flare. ?I've got something at 5 o'clock,? Petricca told the crew.
?Mark, mark, mark,? pilot Lt. Brian Potter said, relaying the news to a distant search plane.
The orange rescue helicopter banked in the direction of the ebullient fishermen. The survivors waved frantically through the tiny door of their enclosed raft. Potter feared the fishermen would flip the raft in their excitement. ?You could tell they were fatigued, but there was that look of relief as well,? he said. Petricca lowered rescue swimmer Petty Officer 2nd Class Tye Conklin, a rescue swimmer, down a cable to the water about 25 yards away to prevent the powerful rotor wash from upending the black and orange raft. The sea was pitching at 8 to 10 feet, Conklin said. He swam to the raft and was greeted with smiles and tears. ?They were probably the seven happiest people in the world,? Conklin said. The raft, caught in the Gulf Stream, drifted more than 40 miles into international waters.
Conklin told the men to don Coast Guard life vests. Then he helped each of the first four into a rescue basket that reeled them up to the hovering helicopter.
Conklin climbed aboard the raft while the packed helicopter flew 30 miles to the Tahoma, a 270-foot Coast Guard cutter based in Portsmouth, Va., that was assisting in the search.
Co-pilot Lt. Kevin D'Eustachio, who resides in Linwood, AtlanticCounty, landed the helicopter on the ship's flight deck. ?That 270 feet sounds like a lot of ship but it's a tiny landing area,? he said.
Aboard the raft, Conklin listened as the survivors told of how waves from a storm crashed over their raft. The men had to use all their strength to hold up the flimsy roof. One man bailed water with a briefcase. A C-130 search plane arrived and began to circle the survivors. The helicopter crew returned to finish the rescue. After loading the final man, Conklin slit holes in the raft and watched it quickly sink. The men were hungry, thirsty, tired and cold but had no obvious injuries, Petricca said. He gave the men bottles of water, Cheerios and pepperoni the crew brought as a snack for themselves in anticipation of a long day of searching. The fishing boat's captain, Francis Redmiles, of Philadelphia, cut the serial number off the rubber life raft that lived up to its name.
?He said they were his lucky numbers. He was going to play them in the lottery,? Conklin said.
The other men rescued were Jeff and John Werler and Thomas Tuscano of Feasterville; Francis Gessler of Media; Todd Carpenter, of Levittown; and Kenneth Arters, of Chester Springs.
?Having seven guys jammed in a four-man life raft. I can't even imagine,? D'Eustachio said. Helicopter pilot Potter said the fishermen were fortunate that his crew saw the smoke signal. The crew estimated the tiny raft measured just 5 feet by 5 feet. It was virtually invisible on acres of blue water. And there was not another boat within miles of the raft. ?That flare saved their lives. They probably wouldn't be here now otherwise,? Petricca said. The survivors' family members spent a long night Sunday waiting for word of the search. The families were reunited Monday evening.
Tuscano spoke to his son by phone when he arrived ashore at Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet in Delaware. ?He said they were all in amazingly good shape. They were in high seas out there,? Tuscano said. ?The credit goes to the Coast Guard. How they did it, I don't know.?
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