Port Angeles, Wash. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air & Marine marine interdiction agents on routine maritime border security patrol responded to a vessel distress signal on Saturday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Port Townsend.
The agents were operating a 33-foot Secure-Around-Flotation-Equipped boat at 11 a.m., when a distress signal went out for a pleasure vessel taking on water approximately three miles from their location. The OAM unit responded to the location of the distress signal and discovered a Canadian-registered 22-foot pleasure craft taking on eight to ten inches of water in the engine compartment, disabling the vessel. The family of three Canadians aboard was attempting unsuccessfully to remove the water with hand-held bilge pumps.
Crewmembers from the OAM vessel boarded the Canadian vessel in an attempt to assist the family in pumping out the water. The family was evacuated to the OAM SAFE boat for their safety and assessed for medical assistance. OAM agents continued to attempt to remove the water from the distressed vessel while additional assistance was requested.
Around noon, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel arrived along with a commercial "Vessel Assist" boat to continue the rescue operation. The Canadian family was transferred to the Coast Guard vessel and the CBP marine unit continued their border security patrol in the area.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.