They plucked an unidentified woman from the Dominican Republic and her two 12-year-old sons from the upturned vessel, called the “Ferrel,” off the coast of Vieques, Puerto Rico, on Thursday.
The children’s British father was later discovered dead beneath the inverted craft, reports Florida’s Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
The U.S. Coast Guard shared dramatic footage of the rescue mission it conducted alongside the British Royal Navy to Twitter:
Officials said someone on board the former oceanographic research vessel sent an initial distress call “stating they were disabled and adrift in 20-foot seas and 100-knot winds” at around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.
As the fierce storm ravaged the area, the family spent a terrifying 24 hours alone with the boat’s engine cut until the hurricane passed and authorities could launch a search mission.
“There was obvious joy in the command center when the aircraft spotted them and the helicopter hoisted them to safety,” Rear Adm. Peter Brown told The Associated Press. “We are happy were able to rescue three and sad we weren’t able to rescue the fourth.”