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Safe/Sea Captain Receives AFRAS Honorable Mention and C-PORT Distinguished Service Award

01-Dec-2016

On the afternoon of August 20, 2016, Captain Robert DiSanto of Safe/Sea, was on routine patrol in New Harbor Block Island. At approximately 1645, he observed the Block Island Marine Patrol preparing to get underway with their emergency lights energized.

As a member of the tight-knit island’s small response community, Capt. DiSanto immediately contacted the Harbormaster and enquired if there was something with which he could assist. He was quickly informed that a call had come into the local fire department reporting that two individuals had been reported in the water and being swept out to sea after attempting to swim off of Block Islands dangerous North Rip.

Aware that he had the fastest response boat in the harbor, Capt. DiSanto asked for and received permission from the Harbormaster to exit the protected no-wake zone at speed, then quickly raced out of the harbor in the direction of the reported persons in the water.

Five minutes later, as he approached the North Rip, he spotted a small sailboat that appeared to be floundering about in the 2-foot seas and six-knot current. He approached and, using his loud hailer, asked if they had any information on the missing persons, and if so, had they spotted them. Pointing to the north, they directed Captain DiSanto to where they believed they had seen one individual.

Following their direction, Capt. DiSanto quickly spotted a single person approximately 500 yards away from the Rip, trying to stay afloat and quickly losing strength as he was being dragged further out to sea. He carefully made his way to the struggling swimmer, all the while shouting encouragement over the loud hailer, letting him know that he was coming and pleading with him to stay afloat and not give up.

As soon as he was close enough to leave the help, Captain DiSanto rushed to the aft deck and threw a line to the swimmer. With very little strength left, the swimmer was just able to grasp the line while Captain DiSanto pulled him close, and eventually into the boat.

Once aboard, the swimmer was questioned and it was ascertained that a group of three individuals had attempted to swim from the North Rip. Of the three, two were swept away in the heavy current, and one of those two was able to make it back. Finally satisfied that there were no other individuals in the water and requiring assistance, the rescued swimmer was transferred to the care of Block Island Rescue and brought to shore for treatment.

For his diligence and his rapid response, Captain DiSanto has received an Honorable Mention from the Association for Rescue at Sea and the C-PORT Distinguished Service Award in Recognition of Extraordinary Assistance. 


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Wickford, RI 02852
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