FORT BELVOIR, Va. , April 29, 2020 —
A Defense Logistics Agency Energy contracted fuel barge tow rescued two female jet skiers who were found exhausted, cold and terrified after being adrift in the water for several hours in the Pensacola Bay April 25.
The motor vessel Rhonda Lamulle was sailing from Hurlburt Field to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, to unload fuel when about 9 p.m. the captain of the towboat, Capt. Richard “Ricky” Boudreaux, noticed a small unmanned watercraft crossing the boat’s bow from the starboard side. The tug notified the U.S. Coast Guard and then got back underway once rescue boats arrived. An hour later, crewmember Jesse Hansford was checking the tow and thought he heard something.
“He asked me to shine the spotlight toward the starboard side of tow, because he thought he heard something,” Boudreaux said. “I slowed the engines, moved the spotlight and we spotted two individuals floating approximately 75 to 100 feet off our starboard side.”
The captain radioed the Coast Guard and a police patrol boat operating nearby while crewmembers Hansford and Derrick Jones used the skiff to rescue both survivors.
“My crew got them on board and brought to safety,” Boudreaux said. “They had every variable stacked against them. They were in dark water at night with noise of engines running.”
DLA Energy Americas East Supplier Operations Chief Gabe Tarango oversees the barge’s contract and said the tug found the women near the bridge coming into Pensacola.
“They were near an outlet of the intracoastal waterway during an outgoing tide and could have very easily ended up in the Gulf if the alert crew of the Rhonda Lamulle hadn’t come upon them,” Tarango said.
The Rhonda Lamulle, operated by JAR Assets, is part of a U.S. Transportation Command barge contract funded by DLA Energy. The contract covers the transportation of Department of Defense-owned bulk jet fuel by tug and barge between suppliers in Houston, Louisiana and Alabama and Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Tyndall Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Naval Air Station Pensacola.
“We have a long-standing relationship with JAR,” Tarango said.
Boudreaux said he is very proud of his crew.
“Their calmness and alertness came together to let these young ladies go home to their families,” he said. “This was the perfect ‘needle in a haystack’ rescue.”
Dennis A. Pasentine, owner and chief executive officer of JAR Assets and its affiliated Florida Marine family, said that everyone in the Florida Marine Group is very proud of Capt. Ricky Boudreaux and the crew of the M/V Rhonda Lamulle. He noted that this was the third water rescue by Capt. Ricky Boudreaux during his employment with the Florida Marine Group.