By Second Fleet Public Affairs
May 6, 2003, NORFOLK, VA (NNS) - USS Gettysburg (CG 64) rescued four civilian mariners in distress at sea May 3. The mariners were rescued approximately 50 miles east of Mayport, Fla.
The Mayport-based guided-missile cruiser was conducting routine operations off the coast of Mayport when it received a radio distress call. The crew responded immediately, racing to the scene and recovering the four mariners with one of the ship's small boats.
The Capolla had been at anchor earlier in the morning, when a large wave capsized the 23-foot fishing vessel, throwing the four mariners into the Atlantic Ocean. They had spent 10 hours in the water prior to being rescued.
"When I talked to them," said Lt. Cmdr. Steve Saunders, Gettysburg chaplain, "they were really glad to see us. There were sharks swimming around the boat. After firing off the flares and nobody responding, they began to have thoughts that it might be their last day, they might not be recovered."
"When we're out there, we're also helping people," said Ensign Frank Gasperetti, Gettysburg officer of the deck. "When it happens, you know, it's a great feeling, and we did something good and positive."
Once aboard, the rescued mariners received fresh water, food, blankets and medical attention and then were transferred to a Coast Guard unit for transportation back to shore.
The capsized vessel was subsequently sunk by Gettysburg to eliminate any hazard to navigation.