Coast Guard gives firsthand look at heavy-weather training


When a big storm hits the Vineyard, chances are crews from Coast Guard Station Menemsha are on the high seas, seizing the opportunity to train for rescue missions in the worst possible conditions.

Last Thursday night, crews navigated winds that topped out at 35 knots and six- to seven-foot seas, with the occasional eight-foot wave, to conduct Heavy Weather Person in the Water Recovery training.

This footage, taken by a GoPro camera mounted on the helmet of Petty Officer 3rd Class (MK3) Adam Struyk, shows the crew in a simulated recovery of a man overboard, who in this case is a dummy, weighted to float like a human, whom the crews have affectionately named “Oscar.”

Mr. Struyk is joined in the recovery by MK3 Josh Hughes, Boatswains Mate Petty Officer First Class Irving Purington, and Seaman Apprentice Jesse Cisneros, with Senior Chief Rob Riemer at the helm.

Chief Riemer told The Times the crew rescued Oscar on the first pass, which is critical in 38° water. “There are a lot of variables when it comes to how long someone can survive in water that cold,” he said. “Without a survival suit, a person can last about 30 minutes. Someone with more body fat will last longer than a skinny person. In a survival suit, a person could probably last an hour and a half, again depending on the person.”

Chief Riemer recommends that recreational boaters carry survival suits on board, even in the summer. “Your body temperature is 98.6. When the water temperature is 70, that cools you down pretty quickly,” he said.