US and Canadian coast guard officials managed an impressive 12-hour rescue of all 31 crew members from a disabled fishing vessel off Nova Scotia over Tuesday and Wednesday, wrapping up shortly before the vessel sank. The 143-foot Atlantic Destiny was 130 miles from Nova Scotia's southwest coast when it lost power and began taking on water in the midst of a fire, possibly in the engine room, around 8pm local time Tuesday, per the CBC. "It was literally your worst fear coming true," Hannah Fancy, whose brother was on board, tells the outlet, noting her family stayed up nearly the entire night "praying for some miracle to happen." A helicopter crew from the Royal Canadian Air Force first located the ship, rescuing six crew members while dropping two technicians to help pump out the water, the US Coast Guard said in a statement. But the effort was to no avail.
US Coast Guard crews rescued another 21 crew members before the pumping was halted some 12 hours into the rescue. The Canadian Coast Guard then whisked the captain and three remaining crew members off the ship, which sank 2.5 hours later, per the CBC. All but the last four crew members were hoisted into helicopters one at a time, so 27 lifts were required. US Coast Guard officials described it as one of the "craziest" and most challenging rescues of their careers, per the CBC and CNN. One described 33-foot waves and sustained winds nearing 60mph. Lt. Cmdr. Brian Owens of Canada's Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said that without assistance from the US, "we would still be trying to transport people to shore." Both Fancy and Martin Sullivan, CEO of Ocean Choice International, which owns the ship, described a "huge" sense of relief. (Read more rescue stories.)