Coast Guard Honors Smith Point Sea Rescue

Smith Point Sea Rescue (SPSR), an all-volunteer sea rescue organization based in Burgess, VA, recently received the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States Coast Guard (USCG).

USCG Rear Admiral Meredith Austin presents the Distinguished Public Service award to Smith Point Sea Rescue. Pictured left to right: USCG Captain Rick Webster, SPSR Vice President Jim Bullard, SPSR Senior Boat Captain Buddy Sylvia, USCG Rear Admiral Meredith Austin, SPSR President Andy Kauders, and USCG Senior Chief Brian Martin.

SPSR, the only all-volunteer sea rescue service on the Chesapeake, responds to boaters in distress in the middle Chesapeake Bay area between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers as well as on the Potomac River from Ragged Point to the Bay. The unit offers assistance to boaters 24/7, free of charge. 

USCG Rear Admiral Meredith Austin and USCG Captain Rick Webster, Sector Hampton Roads Commander, presented SPSR with the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award the Coast Guard can give to a civilian organization. Nominees for the award must have demonstrated at least one of the following: “extraordinary heroism in advancing the Coast Guard’s mission; exceptional coordination and/or cooperation in matters pertaining to the Coast Guard’s responsibilities; personal and direct contribution to the Coast Guard that had a direct bearing on the accomplishment of the Coast Guard’s responsibilities to its citizens.”

A portion of the presented award reads: “their (SPSR’s) vigilant crews and well-equipped response boats have conducted over 2,500 missions, often at night and in foul weather, and have saved or assisted hundreds of mariners throughout their 44-year history.”

SPSR Vice President Jim Bullard says the group, which conducts 65 to 70 rescues each year and is supported through donations and fundraisers, maintains four rescue boats, two on the lower Potomac and two in Reedville. The fleet will be there to help when the unexpected occurs, Bullard says: “we are boaters ourselves, and understand that sinking feeling when an engine won’t start, a cable breaks, or a sandbar chases us down. When the inevitable happens, hail us on (VHF) Channel 16 or dial 911, we’ll be on our way.”

Learn more about Smith Point Sea Rescue by clicking here.  

-Laura Boycourt