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Two Vermilion business owners honored by Coast Guard

Posted: 6:55 PM, Mar 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-19 19:56:14-04

Boat captains, boat owners, dock managers and processors attended a pre-season meeting on Tuesday hosted by the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant, and during that session, two of their own were honored by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The agenda included presentations by personnel from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries concerning the artificial reef project. Enforcement Agents were there to answer any regulatory questions that fishermen might have. The meeting focused mainly on shrimp issues, but all commercial fishermen were welcome to attend.

USCG Rear Admiral Paul Thomas of District 8 presented the Meritorious Public Service Award to two local business owners in Intracoastal City for their assistance in the rescue of four commercial fishermen on Sept 18, 2018. Also, in attendance will be Capt. Blake Welborn from Houma and CDR Heather Mattern from Morgan City. Additionally, since safety is everyone’s job, fishermen will have the opportunity to participate in an interactive safety training exercise conducted by the USCG and LSU AgCenter/Louisiana Sea Grant.

“There’s not enough Coast Guard out there. We need everybody pitching in. The thing about this community is that it’s a tight community. They help each other and keep each other safe. That’s why we wanted to come out here and recognize that because it’s important to these fishermen,” Thomas said.

Honored were the owners of Vermillion Seafood in Intracoastal City,  Andy Bui and Paul Tran, Louisiana natives who were presented the Meritorious Public Service Award for their assistance in the rescue of four commercial fishermen Sept. 18, 2018.

According to the Coast Guard, Tran and Bui required all vessels that moor at their facility to pass a Coast Guard safety exam. They assisted vessel operators with the registration of their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons, and placed themselves as emergency contacts as they both are fluent in English and Vietnamese. This provided the secondary benefit of allowing them to translate between the vessel owners and Coast Guard.

The benefit of their efforts was shown firsthand when, on the morning of September 18, 2018, the commercial fishing vessel Capt M&M struck the south side jetties at Sabine Pass two miles from shore. The captain of the vessel did not have time to issue a mayday nor don his life-jacket, but was able to scramble to the top of the cabin and deploy the EPIRB.

All four crewmembers then entered the water as the vessel capsized and partially sank. In the pre-dawn darkness the crew huddled around the emergency beacon as it sent its alert to the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard reached out to Bui who confirmed with family members that the vessel was en-route to Texas for repairs. At the same time, the Coast Guard directed the Jefferson Sheriff Department to the vessel’s position. The Sheriff Department located the crew and rescued all four crew-members.

By assisting all vessels at their facility with the registration of EPIRBs, Bui and Tran directly contributed to the safe recovery of four commercial fishermen on the Capt M&M, the Coast Guard said.