Woods Hole students rescue 49 Haitians at sea

"SEA semester" program run by the Falmouth-based Sea Education Association

Yesterday morning, the SSV Corwith Cramer, a training vessel from Falmouth with 22 students enrolled in the "SEA semester" program for undergraduates run by the Falmouth-based Sea Education Association, came upon a disabled and dismasted sailing vessel drifting 45 miles north of Jamaica.

The students were in the fifth week of a six-week voyage deploying oceanographic sampling equipment that began in Key West, FL when they came upon the disabled vessel 45 miles off Jamaica.

The damaged boat was about 25 feet in length and was en route to Jamaica carrying 49 Haitians.

The crew aboard the SEA vessel immediately contacted the United States Coast Guard, and they were advised that there were no USCG ships available in the area able to  rescue the disabled craft. The SSV Corwith Cramer was also told there were no other vessels nearby capable of making the rescue.

At sea 5 days with 14 children

The disabled Haitian vessel had been at sea for five days and 14 of those on board were children. SEA consulted with the USCG, medical experts, and others before bringing the individuals aboard.

Aboard the Corwith Cramer a student points out the approximate location of the rescue about 45 miles off Jamaica.

The rescue occurred late Wednesday afternoon and the SSV Corwith Cramer arrived in Port Antonio, Jamaica that night where they safely completed the transfer of the rescued survivors to local authorities early Thursday morning.

The crew and students are all well and the Cramer is lying at anchor in the Port Antonio harbor. The plan is for the boat to leave Port Antonio by Friday morning. The school in Woods Hole commended Captain Steve Tarrant, Chief Scientist Gary Jaroslow, and the crew and students of Class 197 for their competence, courage, and humanity.

The Ship and its mission

SSV Corwith Cramer is named after SEA's founding director and was designed by Wooden and Marean specifically for SEA and constructed by ASTACE in 1987 in Bilbao, Spain. She is a 134-foot steel brigantine built as a research vessel for operation under sail.

The 134 foot brigantine SSV Cramer under sail

SEA is an educational institution dedicated to the study of the ocean environment and its relationship to the Earth and to human affairs. Its mission is to challenge students intellectually and physically within a rigorous, interactive, interdisciplinary curriculum, while providing opportunities for significant personal growth. 

The school's goal is to fulfill this mission through intensive coursework and practical experience acquired both ashore on a residential campus and at sea aboard deep-ocean sailing research vessel.

By going to SEA, students can get a semesterâ??s credit for a 12-week program that takes place half on shore and half at sea.

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