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Texas A&M cadets rescue 3 stranded on fishing boat
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Texas A&M cadets rescue 3 stranded on fishing boat

  • PublishedJune 12, 2024



While on their summer sea semester, the students spotted a small fishing boat drifting in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico 500 miles away from Galveston.

GALVESTON, Texas — Three people lost at sea for weeks are recovering after they were rescued by Texas A&M cadets. The students were on a training mission with the Texas A&M Maritime Academy aboard the TS Kennedy.

The rescue happened in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico — 500 miles off the coast of Galveston. The cadets were in the middle of their summer sea semester and their training got very real, very soon.

“This is about as real as it can get,” Cadet William Flores said.

Saturday morning, as the sun was beginning to rise over the Gulf, something caught the eye of cadet lookouts aboard the ship.

“We spotted something in dead center of our track line,” Flores said.

Flores said it was too far to see exactly what it was, but they soon realized they’d made a lifesaving find.

“As we got closer, we saw three individuals waving their hands, waving a flag, they were obviously in distress,” Flores said.

Captain Wade Howell, in command of the training ship, radioed to the Coast Guard. Howell sent out a small rescue boat to investigate further. It turns out the small fishing boat had lost power and had been drifting at sea for 15 days.

“I was shocked we came up on that and thank God we did,” Flores said.

They were sun-baked, running low on food and water and relieved somehow they’d been found.

“If it had been the middle of night, we would have never seen them at all, would have driven right by,” Howell said. “It was meant to be. Just the right place at the right time.”

The three people rescued were brought onboard the ship where they were fed and received medical care.

“They were able to make contact with their loved ones back home, and it was a pretty good reunion,” Howell said. “They had been gone for several days and they were happy to know they were still alive.”

On Sunday, they were transferred to the Coast Guard near Key West to be reunited with their families.

“They were so thankful hopping on the Coast Guard boat as they were going away, you could tell they were doing signals … just really thankful for everything we did for them,” Flores said.

After the heroic rescue, the cadets continued on their 62-day semester at sea. Their first port stop is in Fort Lauderdale in a few days.

“This was a great experience to see,” Flores said. “If anything like this happens in the real world when I’m on a ship, it’ll give me more knowledge of what to do in a situation like this.”

Howell told KHOU 11 News his career spans 20 years at sea and he has only experienced something like this once before. The last time it happened, he was training as a cadet at Texas A&M as well.




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