By Robin Rieger
CAPE MAY, NJ (CBS) – “Hey babes,” said Anthony Iannacito as his family was reunited Monday morning.
He had just stepped off the Coast Guard cutter Vigorous, which had arrived back in Cape May following two months at sea.
Many loved ones were waiting with welcome home signs, and there were hugs and kisses for most of the 80 crew members.
And family members weren’t the only people relieved to see Vigorous come into view. In February, thousands of passengers of the Carnival cruise ship Triumph were happy to see it arrive first on the scene after an engine room fire disabled the cruise liner, knocking out the electricity and toilets.
“It was great; there was nobody else around them. If we weren’t there, it would just be them, dead in the water, floating,” explained Iannacito.
The crew was at sea on counter-drug patrols. While on duty, they responded to the call for help to assist the Triumph’s personnel. Commanding officer Greg Magee says they didn’t board the cruise ship.
“About every hour, at least someone in our bridge team would talk to each other updating the situation,” Magee said.
A Coast Guard helicopter lowered a generator to the Triumph. Magee says his crew helped a woman who needed dialysis get to land.
“We used our small boat in some relatively rough seas to put the person in another cruise ship that was heading to port,” Magee said.
They then escorted the cruise ship as it was towed 400 miles over five days to a terminal in Mobile, Alabama after making sure the ship was safe and there was food and water on board.
“People were happy to see us and at least knew things were going to be okay from that point on,” Magee recalled. “It’s just a feeling when you’re out there, you know, you’re gone for two months at a time and you’re making a difference.”
Living up to the Coast Guard’s motto, “Always ready.”