Charleston Fire boat hits buoy while helping stranded Navy vessel

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A Charleston Fire Department rescue boat was dispatched late Saturday night to help a stranded Navy boat with injured crew members and ended up in an accident of its own.

According to Charleston's fire marshal Mike Julazadeh, a U.S. Navy boat was involved in an accident and called for help around 10:15 p.m.

Monday evening, Julazadeh confirmed the fire boat had hit a buoy.

"In accordance with City Policy, the driver of the fireboat was taken for drug testing and then appropriate notifications were given to the US Coast Guard and the Department of Natural Resources regarding the maritime accident," Julazadeh said in a release.

According to a statement from the fire department, members of the crew were injured.

One of the Navy crew members was airlifted to a nearby hospital and two others were taken ashore by a Coast Guard crew and then taken to the hospital by Charleston County EMS, Julazadeh said.

According to Charity Hardison from the public affairs office for the Navy Expedition Combat Command, six sailors were injured. Hardison said three were transported to MUSC in stable condition and the other three were treated and released.

The Charleston Fire boat, the Louis Behrens, struck something in the water while heading to the accident and began taking on water. The crew put out a MayDay distress call and several other boats helped the crew get the vessel back to the dock, Julazadeh said.

No one on the crew of the Louis Behrens was injured, the fire marshal said.{}

The boat will be inspected this week to assess the damage.

Julazadeh did not have information on the Navy boat's crew and Joint Base Charleston has not released a statement on their condition or what accident happened aboard the vessel.

The Louis Behrens was Christened only last November and was named after the longest serving Fire Chief in the nation. Behrens, who passed away in 1932, served 58 years as Charleston Fire Chief.

The vessel was paid for through federal grants.

"Recognizing the need to ensure a fair and impartial review of the incident involving the fireboat, I have requested the US Coast Guard lead the accident investigation," said Fire Chief Karen Brack. "I believe we should utilize their expertise in maritime activities to ensure a thorough review of the accident. Their report will be utilized by the Fire Department to conduct a Critical Incident Review, something we commonly utilize to analyze significant events, to help identify what went well and what should be improved. In order to ensure an unbiased review, and allow the Coast Guard to work through their process, we will not be able to provide any further details, comments, or access to the fireboat until the investigation has been completed. Upon completion we will provide an update on their results."

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