Lockheed Martin Comsat Mobile Employees Help Save Two Lives

By | November 30, 2000 | Feature

Two employees of Lockheed Martin Comsat Mobile Communications’ earth station at Southbury, Conn., were recognized recently by the U.S. Coast Guard for coordinating emergency communications that helped to save the lives of two people whose yacht had sustained severe damage.

The incident occurred on the evening of Oct. 30, when the yacht Ocean Wolf had an explosion in its engine compartment. The vessel was disabled and adrift, taking on water and in the path of Tropical Storm Joyce. The disabled yacht was 420 miles east of the nearest land, the island of Guadeloupe, out of radio range and too far away for Coast Guard ships to reach her quickly.

But the two-person crew was able to use Comsat-C service, a low-cost, digital messaging service used for telex and data applications, such as e-mail, Global Positioning and Global Maritime Distress and Safety messages.

Using Comsat-C, they contacted the Southbury earth station, where Theresa Edwards and Joe Wheelahan were on duty. They immediately began determining the location of ships near the Ocean Wolf and requested their assistance.

After polling ships in the area, Edwards and Wheelahan determined that there were four ships within three hours of reaching the Ocean Wolf. One of them responded to the emergency, diverted to assist the Ocean Wolf and took off the two people aboard it.

“We knew the damage was serious and time was critical if we were going to be able to successfully coordinate help,” said Wheelahan. “We assisted the Coast Guard by diverting the two closest ships that had the necessary on-board equipment to assist the Ocean Wolf.”

Rick Kenney, the Coast Guard’s automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue maritime relations officer, expressed the service’s appreciation for Comsat and its personnel. “Comsat Mobile’s land earth stations have been a major element in providing critical communications in search and rescue efforts taken on by the Coast Guard,” he said.

“CMC’s earth stations have been on the receiving end of many emergency and distress communications that have resulted in Coast Guard rescue teams saving hundreds of lives at sea every year,” Kenney added.

The personnel at all three of Comsat Mobile’s earth stations are trained to coordinate emergency communications with international, federal and local safety and search and rescue organizations.

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