Coast Guard Searches Off Nantucket's South Shore After Report Of Capsized Boat

Jason Graziadei •

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The Coast Guard searched the waters south of Nantucket Wednesday morning after a commercial aircraft reported a possible capsized boat.

The search, which included a fixed-wing aircraft and Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod along with Station Brant Point's 47-foot motor life boat and the Nantucket Harbormaster, turned up nothing, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Kenneth Decker.

Nantucket Memorial Airport control tower chief Patrick Topham said it was a United Airlines pilot who reported the sighting as they were flying at 2,000 feet about eight miles south of the island around 8:45 a.m. When the plane arrived on Nantucket, Topham said his team interviewed the pilots about what they saw.

"They said it was a bow, that it looked like a boat straight up and down in the water, and an oil slick," Topham said.

They contacted the Coast Guard, but Topham knew it would take at least an hour for them to get an aircraft south of the island, so he reached out to Ed Usowicz, of Marine Lumber, to see if his pilots could fly their Navajo aircraft that was already on Nantucket over the area where the sighting occurred.

"They were more than happy to go up in the Navajo, and they started a search pattern while we waited for the Coast Guard," Topham said.

Using radar records of the United Airlines aircraft's flight path and Google Earth, Topham and his team were able to provide precise longitude and latitude coordinates to both the Marine Lumber pilots and the Coast Guard to aid the search.

"The Navajo pilots found a debris field about 500 feet long - it was definitely something floating in the water - but there were no life jackets and they didn't see an oil slick," Topham said. "It was within a couple miles of four to six commercial draggers too, but none of them reported anything either."

In addition to the Coast Guard scrambling its assets from Nantucket and Cape Cod, Decker said a number of charter boats and other private mariners also searched the area. Despite the initial sightings, nothing was found in the subsequent search.

"It was determined to be a probable false alert," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Noel.

"Whatever it was, we had a lot of eyes on that spot," Topham said.

The screenshot below shows the track of the Coast Guard helicopter involved in the search.

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