Water Rescue in the Delaware Bay
Sunday, May 23, 2021

At 1533 hours, Kent center received a call for a boat taking on water in the Delaware Bay off Port Mahon.  The initial report was for a 20 foot white boat with 6 people onboard, and is going under.  There were only 3 PFDs. 

Stations 53, 40, DSP aviation, the Delaware Aerial Response Team (DART), the USCG, Delaware Natural Resources Police, St Francis EMS, Magnolia EMS, Frederica EMS, and the Kent County Paramedics were dispatched to assist Station 54.  

Command also requested Downe Twshp Station 39 out of Cumberland County NJ, for Marine 39, however they were unable to respond.

Command 54/Chief Bundek responded to the Port Mahon State Dock, to see if he could spot the vessel from the shoreline. He arrived seven minutes after dispatch. The initial report from the caller was able to see the towers, most likely being the fuel storage tanks belonging to the Delaware Pipeline & Storage. 

As Kent center continued to communicate with the caller on the sinking boat, it became apparent that the vessel was about to go under or capsize.  

Fire Boat 40 went underway from Bowers and 53 Marine 1 was underway from the Leipsic river. 10 minutes into the incident.  54 Marine 3 was underway for the state dock 18 minutes from dispatch

54 Marine 3 had the vessel in distress in sight at 1553, and at 1557 all occupants were out of the water on 54 Marine 3, and confirmed that the vessel had in fact capsized.

After 54 Marine 2 got under way, and arrived, it stayed with the capsized vessel until 53 Marine 1 and Fireboat 40 arrived.

At that time Command canceled the USCG, DSP aviation and DART as well as the Natural Resources Police boat.

At 1611 the victims were back on land at the State Dock, and checked over by EMS, then interviewed by Natural Resources Police.

Fireboat 40 had to tow the boat still capsized back to the state dock to be recovered.  All four rescue boats tried several times to right the boat in shallow waters however they were unsuccessful. 

The salvage trailer was brought to the dock area in anticipation of pumping off water once it was righted.

Once at the dock, crews tried to right the vessel again but were unsuccessful.  The incident was turned over to Natural Resources Police.  


Responding units


Station 54

Command 54

54-0 pulling Marine 3

54-10 pulling Marine 2

54-8 pulling the salvage trailer



Station 53

53-8 pulling Marine 2

53 Marine 1



Station 40

Brush 40

Fireboat 40


Station 55



Station 49



St Francis EMS




Kent County Public Safety

KM 5

KM 9


DSP Aviation

Trooper 2

Trooper 4






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Calls for Service

Jan - 34 Feb - 33 Mar - 41
Apr - 51 May - 52 June - 57
July - 51 Aug - 38 Sept - 28
Oct - 48 Nov - 46 Dec - 49

Year Totals:

2023 - 528 2022 - 497 2021 - 509
2020 - 491 2019 - 458 2018 - 319