Coast Guard, Navy rescues 4 divers reported missing near Myrtle Beach coast

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 6:10 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The U.S. Coast Guard and Navy safely brought back four divers to shore Monday morning after they were spotted, officials say, thanks to an SOS strobe light.

The Coast Guard was notified of the four male divers missing around noon on Sunday, approximately 63 miles east of Myrtle Beach. They were in a “pleasure craft” called Big Bill’s.

After the divers did not resurface, a multi-agency search was launched. Multiple helicopters and patrol boats were involved in the search.

Early Monday morning, a Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City HC-130 Hercules airplane crew notified the North Carolina Coast Guard sector around 12:45 a.m., that the divers were spotted using a SOS strobe light.

Using an infrared camera, crews pinpointed the divers’ location and started making their way over. Once the U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) arrived, they pulled the divers off a life raft and onto their vessel until the Coast Guard Station Oak Island 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew arrived. All the divers were alive, and no injuries were reported, according to officials.

The Coast Guard released a video of the rescue from the Forward-Looking Infrared system from the Air Station Elizabeth City.

The Coast Guard then took the divers back to shore. The divers were reunited with their family and friends on Oak Island at 6:10 a.m.

The divers rescued included 46-year-old Daniel Williams and his teenage son, 64-year-old Ben Wiggins and 26-year-old Luke Lodge, the Coast Guard says.

“Any time the Coast Guard launches for a search and rescue case, it is always our hope and goal to be able to reunite those we are searching for with their friends and families,” said Capt. Timothy List, commander of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina. “In this case that is exactly what took place, which is always a great feeling for our rescue crews.”

Rescue crews involved included:

  • An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  • An HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew from Air Station Elizabeth City
  • A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Oak Island, North Carolina
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Sailfish, an 87-foot patrol boat from Portsmouth, Virginia
  • The Coast Guard Cutter Yellowfin, an 87-foot patrol boat from Charleston, South Carolina
  • U.S. Navy Destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78)
One of the divers being embraced by loved ones after the successful rescue
One of the divers being embraced by loved ones after the successful rescue (USCG Mid-Atlantic)
The U.S. Coast Guard is working to bring back four missing divers to shore Monday morning safely.