Campus News

Skidaway Institute ship crew rescues stranded boaters

Research Vessel Savannah at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography|Research Vessel Savannah docked and loading in bait at the docks at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography outside of Savannah. (Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

A routine research cruise quickly turned into a lifesaving, nighttime rescue mission for the crew of UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s Research Vessel Savannah.

On June 8, the ship rescued two Florida fishermen who were clinging to the hull of their capsized boat in the open ocean, approximately 10 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The Savannah was conducting a fish survey with a team from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration when, around 8:30 p.m., they were contacted by the Coast Guard to assist with a vessel in distress believed to be three and a half miles from the Savannah’s position. Captain Raymond Sweatte steered the Savannah toward the boat’s last known position, eventually coming across a capsized 24-foot boat with
two fishermen holding on for dear life.

The fishermen were identified as Justin Desoto and Andy Odom out of Port Canaveral, Florida. They said the boat started taking on water. 

Both fishermen were brought onboard and provided blankets and water. A Coast Guard vessel met the ship and carried Desoto and Odom back to shore.

Afterward, the Savannah continued on with its original, planned research cruise and arrived back at its home dock at the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah on June 14.