The U.S. Coast Guard evacuated 19 sick crew members from a cargo ship anchored off Port Canaveral, Florida. The crew were thought to be suffering from food poisoning.

Because of 35 knot winds and 5- to 6-foot seas from Tropical Storm Arthur, the Coast Guard opted for a helicopter evacuation, rather than a smallboat. Two MH-60 helicopter crews form Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater safely hoisted the crewmembers from the cargo ship JS Comet and transported them to an area hospital.

“The health and well-being of the ill crewmembers was our top priority,” said Capt. Tom Allan, commanding officer and captain of the port for Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “Our responders performed extraordinarily in challenging conditions to get the sick crewmembers to the hospital. We are coordinating with the company to identify qualified personnel to operate the vessel, mitigate the maritime environmental risks and ensure the public’s safety.”

The crew of the JS Comet, a 584-foot South Korean-flagged vessel, started experienced food poisoning like symptoms early Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control, a Coast Guard flight surgeon and other medical professionals consulted, deciding that the sick crew should be evacuated. Two other crewmembers were not experiencing any symptoms and remained aboard the vessel.

The JS Comet is prohibited under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act from entering any port and must remained anchored outside Port Canaveral until it meets the following conditions:

The nature of the illness and expected duration are determined.
A minimum of three harbor safety tugs are immediately available to assist if the vessel starts to drag anchor.
Credential mariners, including at least one navigational officer, one deckhand or able seaman, and one engineer, are available to assist in anchor watch.
The minimum safe manning requirements for the vessel are satisfied to ensure safe operation.
Hourly communication with Sector Jacksonville command center is maintained, incluidng reports on position, crew status and any other safety concerns.

The maritime injury lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury protect the rights of workers aboard cargo ships and other vessels.