The rescue at sea of a fishing boat captain from Scarborough on Saturday was at least the third time in the past four years that Dale Sparrow was involved in a U.S. Coast Guard rescue mission.

Coast Guard Lt. David Bourbeau confirmed Sunday night that Saturday’s rescue, which involved the Navy’s new stealth destroyer – the Zumwalt – and a Coast Guard helicopter, was the third time since 2011 that the Coast Guard was called to help Sparrow.

While Bourbeau called the string of rescue missions “interesting,” he said it doesn’t matter how many times someone calls for the Coast Guard’s help.

“Regardless who is out there, if they are in distress, we will respond,” said Bourbeau, who is based at the Coast Guard station in South Portland. “That is what we do and we are proud of it.”

According to the Coast Guard, the crew of the Danny Boy – a 45-foot fishing vessel based in Portland – called around 3 a.m. Saturday to report that their captain, the 46-year-old Sparrow, was experiencing chest pains.

A Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod responded to the fishing vessel – located 40 miles southeast of Portland – but determined that hoisting someone onto the deck of the vessel was too dangerous due to the deck’s configuration.


The Zumwalt, which was conducting sea trials at the time, offered to help and launched a small boat crew to the Danny Boy.

The crew transferred Sparrow to the destroyer, from which he was airlifted to the Portland International Jetport by the Coast Guard helicopter.

Reached by telephone Sunday evening at his hospital room at Maine Medical Center, Sparrow said he did not want to talk about the rescue. But on his Facebook page, Sparrow thanked the Navy and Coast Guard.

“Thank you to all who helped save my life. That was me who got rescued by the new stealth destroyer,” he wrote.

This year the Danny Boy was involved in two incidents in which it had to be towed back to port, Bourbeau said. The first, in September, was handled by the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba, which towed the fishing boat to Portland after it experienced engine problems 50 miles east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

According to Bourbeau, the Danny Boy was also towed by a private vessel to the Portland Fish Pier in November after it started taking on water off Cape Elizabeth.


A good Samaritan vessel named the Betty Lou handled the tow.

Bourbeau said that in September 2011 Sparrow was rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter 90 miles off the shore of Cape Elizabeth after he became ill at sea. WCSH-TV reported that Sparrow experienced abdominal pain and cold sweats. He was airlifted to Maine Medical Center, where he had his appendix removed.

“Minimizing the loss of life, injury, property damage or loss by rendering aid to persons in distress and property in the maritime environment has always been a Coast Guard priority,” Bourbeau said.


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