VIDEO: Coast Guard member from Muscatine honored for daring rescue off Nova Scotia

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday to recognize Joshua Gaeta of Muscatine.

Rep. Miller-Meeks remarks from Nov. 30:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a military servicemember from my district for his historic actions that saved over thirty lives.

Earlier this year, Joshua Gaeta of Muscatine and his Coast Guard crew were successful in a daring search and rescue operation involving thirty-one fishermen stranded on a ship that caught fire 200 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Facing winds of over fifty miles per hour, waves thirty feet high, and freezing cold temperatures, our Coast Guard, with Gaeta on-board, bravely flew their helicopters to the scene and were able to save all thirty-one crew members.

I want to thank Mr. Gaeta and all our servicemembers for all that they do to keep our country safe.

Details of the rescue from U.S. Coast Guard 1st District Public Affairs:
The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, rescued 31 fishermen from a disabled, Canadian fishing vessel over 130 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3, 2021.

At 7:05 p.m., Tuesday, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax notified watchstanders at the Coast Guard First District Command Center that the 143-foot vessel, Atlantic Destiny, was disabled with a fire on board, and was taking on water.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing crew, and two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews launched and arrived on scene.

A Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant helicopter crew from 14 Wing Greenwood, in Nova Scotia, Canada, hoisted six crewmembers from the vessel, and dropped off two search and rescue technicians to assist in dewatering the vessel. A Canadian CC-130 Hercules, also from 14 Wing Greenwood, provided top cover for the operation.

The U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk crews hoisted another 21 fishermen between the two helicopters. All hoisted crewmembers were taken to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where they were transferred for medial assessment.

The remaining four crewmembers, and the two SAR technicians, ceased dewatering efforts and were transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape Roger shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The Atlantic Destiny sank to the bottom at 9:36 a.m.

“We have a strong connection with our Canadian partners,” said Capt. Wes Hester, the 1st Coast Guard District chief of response. “We conduct joint training every year with our partners in Greenwood, and our crew’s consistent training, coordinated responses, and international partnership saved 31 lives yesterday. That monumental effort is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of everyone involved.”

“We were very fortunate to have had the support of the U.S. Coast Guard during this rescue. Their ability to provide such valuable support in the saving of the lives of these fishermen is very much appreciated and demonstrates how important our relationship is in providing search and rescue services to both Canada and the United States.” Maj. Kristin MacDonald, Officer in Charge, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax.

The weather on scene was 35 mph winds and 26-foot seas.