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Monday, June 4, 2012

Labrador area to lose Coast Guard ship

 Two men and two children were rescued Sunday afternoon by a U.S. Coast Guard crew after the sailing vessel they were aboard capsized, sending all four into the water, near north suburban Fort Sheridan.

The boaters used a handheld VHF-FM marine radio to call for help at 11:30 a.m., after their vessel capsized, a release from the Coast Guard said.

A crew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Wilmette Harbor was already underway on another mission at the time and diverted to assist the mariners, the release said. When the crew arrived on scene at 12:09 p.m., all four people were in the 58-degree water with their life jackets on. The crew reported they were showing signs of hypothermia.

The Coast Guardsmen brought the two men — a 43-year-old from Deerfield and a 42-year-old from Highland Park — and the children, a 13-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, both of Highland Park, aboard the RB-S and transported them to Highland Park, where emergency medical technicians were waiting.

The Harp is used for search and rescue along the province's shores but works primarily along the Labrador coast, in areas such as the Strait of Belle Isle and east of St. Anthony.

Merv Wiseman – a retired search and rescue co-ordinator who led the failed fight to keep the St. John's marine rescue centre open – said the Harp's future is unclear.

"The ship for the purpose of St. Anthony and that area -- for Newfoundland -- in fact -- will be decommissioned. Whether or not the ship is going to be used in another region, I just simply don't know at this stage," he said.

The seven-member crew is represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Regional vice-president Wayne Fagan said it's not clear if the workers will be laid off once the vessel is taken of service, or if they'll be moved into other positions.

Fagan said he hopes to learn more Tuesday during an internal Coast Guard meeting.

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