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Don't Taze Me, Bro!
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Here's one of the reasons that fishing in Alaska is so deadly. This was read into the Congressional Record by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

I was stationed on the Coast Guard ship involved for 2 years and spent a lot of time in Alaskan waters on her. Bravo Zulu to the US Coast Guard men and women involved in this rescue.

ALASKA SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI LAUDS USCG'S EFFORTS IN THE ALASKA RANGER RESCUE

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
Senate - March 31, 2008
Page: S2218

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD --

Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, many of my fellow Americans are very aware of the exhilaration but also the dangers and risks of commercial fishing in
Alaska's Bering Sea. The pictures and the stories--and even the sounds--are
brought into our living rooms every week on the Discovery Channel program
``The Deadliest Catch.'' Many have seen it.

When the Bering Sea fishing fleet finds itself in trouble, they rely on the
men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard to truly make order from the chaos.
These stories have not escaped Hollywood's attention. It is not only seen on
``The Deadliest Catch,'' but there was a 2006 feature film, ``The Guardian,'' starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher, which paid tribute to the Coast Guard search and rescue teams based at Air Station Kodiak in Alaska.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak is home to aircrews and rescue swimmers who
endure some of the harshest winds and seas in the world. They put their own
lives on the line every day so that others may live.

The events that were depicted in ``The Guardian'' were fictional, but the
events that transpired this past Easter morning in the Bering Sea were very
real. I rise today to honor the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard who
participated in efforts to rescue the 47-member crew of the fishing vessel
Alaska Ranger. As a direct result of these heroic efforts, 42 members of the
Ranger's crew survived. There were no Coast Guard lives lost. In the words
of RADM Arthur Brooks, commander of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District, it was "one of the greatest search and rescue efforts in modern history.''

Let me kind of paint the scene for you. It was 2:52 a.m. local time on
Easter Sunday, March 23, that the Alaska Ranger, a Seattle- based factory
trawler, radioed the Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak with a
distress call. The vessel at that time was located 120 miles west of Dutch
Harbor at the end of the Aleutian Chain. The vessel was taking on water.
There were 25-knot winds and seas 6 to 8 feet high.

The Coast Guard immediately launched a rescue effort. There was a cutter,
tw o helicopters, and a C-130. The crew of the Ranger had to abandon ship
before the first Coast Guard asset arrived.

First to arrive on the scene is a Coast Guard Jayhawk Rescue Helicopter,
deployed from St. Paul Island, located about 230 miles to the north of where
the Alaska Ranger was at the time.

The Jayhawk carried a crew of four men. There was no backup. The Jayhawk arrives on the scene about 5:30 a.m. This is about 2 1/2 hours after the first distress call. This helps put in perspective the distances with which we are dealing. By this point in time, the Alaska Ranger has already sunk in the water. The vessel is completely gone. It has already sunk in water that is more than 6,300 feet deep.

The air crew flies in and looks upon this sea of flashing strobe lights. Keep in mind, this is 5:30 in the morning. It is still dark. They have wind and sleet and waves coming up, and they see this sea of flashing strobe lights, probably a mile end to end. They are looking down at this scene through the helicopter thinking there is a light there: Is that a liferaft? Yet another light and another light. Each light is a member of the Ranger's crew wearing a survival suit. Some are in liferafts, but others were literally in this human chain stretching almost a mile in length. Others are floating alone. The water temperature in the sea is about 32 degrees.

Rescue swimmer O'Brien Hollow is lowered into the water to triage the
survivors. One by one, he positions the survivors to be hoisted into the
helicopter above. The helicopter is tossing above in these very heavy winds.
Hollow is tethered to the helicopter from above.

We also have then the Coast Guard cutter Munro. It has been diverted from
its position 130 nautical miles south of the incident. It is racing to the
scene at the speed of about 30 knots.

The Munro carries a Dolphin rescue helicopter which lifts off the Munro some
80 miles before the cutter arrives at the scene.

Rescue swimmer Abram Heller is lowered into the water and begins to gather
victims to be hoisted into the basket to be lifted up into the helicopter.
Heller stays in the water to make room on the Dolphin for survivors.

One has to remember, they have some 47 men in the water. They are trying to lift them into the basket and then into the helicopter, but the helicopter can only accommodate so many people. The rescue swimmer is saying: I am going to stay down here; move this group to safety.

The Jayhawk then departs the scene for the Munro, but the Jayhawk cannot
land on the cutter's deck because it is too big. So the Jayhawk crew hoists
the survivors down to the Munro's deck one by one. Just as they have been
lifting survivors out of the sea into this helicopter that is pitching around in the air, they now have to be dropped down to the deck one at a time in the basket.

In the meantime, a fuel line is sent up from the Munro's deck to refuel the
Jayhawk, and it then departs to the scene.

The Jayhawk recovers Heller, the rescue swimmer who has been down there with the survivors, and rescues more survivors. In total, the Jayhawk is
responsible for saving 15 lives. The Dolphin saves five lives.

The third player in this supremely heroic effort is a Coast Guard C-130,
which circled over the scene serving as an airborne coordination and
communications platform.

The Coast Guard also received substantial assistance from the Ranger's
sister fishing vessel, the Alaska Warrior. The Alaska Warrior also had been
out on the Alaska fishing gr ounds. They left their fishing grounds to pick
up 22 survivors from the Ranger who were in liferafts and then returned them
to Dutch Harbor.

Unfortunately, four of the Ranger's crew members could not be saved. One
still remains unaccounted for. The Coast Guard sent the Jayhawk and a C-130
back to the scene with fresh crews to search for the missing mariner but
without success. The search for the missing crew member was suspended on
Tuesday, March 25.

The Coast Guard uses the maritime phrase ``Bravo Zulu'' to recognize a job well done, and this was truly a job well done. While the Coast Guard rigorously trains its people to perform this mission, it is very rare to undertake a mission of this intensity and this complexity.

Rescue swimmers Hollow and Heller had participated in rescues before but
nothing approaching th is kind of a rescue. In fact, rescues of this nature are extremely rare. After very carefully examining the records dating back over 30 years, the Coast Guard could only find a couple mass rescue cases that were even remotely similar to what we experienced on Easter.

While dramatic search-and-rescue cases are no stranger to Alaska, most
involve 10 victims or less. Others involve a much more orderly abandonment
of a vessel. This was the case in 1980, when the cruise ship Prinsendam went
down near Yakutat, AK. But large numbers of people abandoning ship directly
into the water hardly ever happens. That is one more reason why this rescue
effort was remarkable.

But it is not the only reason.

The risks that were involved in this case were extreme. They had, again, darkness, e xtremely high winds, high seas, ice, freezing temperatures, extremely long distances from any supporting infrastructure, and all these conditions present unique hazards to the rescuers.

Success such as this could not occur without the commitment of a great many people. The crews of the Jayhawk, the Dolphin, and the Munro will long be remembered for their heroism.

Backing them were the watch standers at Coast Guard Communications Station Kodiak. These were the folks who answered the Alaska Ranger's mayday call. The C-130 crews, the Kodiak Air Station duty officers, and the District 17 command center controllers in Juneau also contributed. In total, something on the order of 170 Alaska-based Coast Guard men and women were involved in this effort.

ADM Thad Allen has already expressed ``Bravo Zulu'' to all the men and women involved with this effort. I am honored to take a few minutes from the Senate's day to praise these men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard on a job well done. Our Nation is always well served by these highly trained individuals who stand ``always ready.''

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
Senate - March 31, 2008
Page: S2218
 

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Break Out Another Thousnd
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Those guys (and gals) truly are heros. When I was in the Navy, we use to always give them a bad time (as all services do to each other, just kind of harmless razzing). Until I started fishing in San Francisco bay and started hearing the Coast Guard's half of radio conversations. Things like, "Skipper have you been able to stop the bleeding, is your passenger still unconcious, and have you been able to put the fire out? (all one transmission) Followed by "Understand you are abondoning ship at this time, we have rescue in route." Got a whole new respect for those folks. Bravo Zulu CG. Fair winds and following seas.
 

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Islander Moho Trash
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Wow that intense. Too bad we never hear about stuff like that on the news.
Hero's indeed.
 

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27 Victory 800efi
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Great story and makes me proud to be part of the organization. One thing that does not quite make sense is that they Jayhawk could not land on the Munro which is one of the biggest cutters we have, 378'. I'm pretty sure that the Jayhawk can fit on the helo pad, so there might be something else to that story. Otherwise, great job to all of those guys up there!
-Tom
 

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Nine pieces of Eight
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I wonder if the show will capture this heroism on a future show. Would be nice to have the CG recognized for what they did and are doing.

Like BBD said the show does show the CG from time to time. There was a vessel that went down last year. Only one of the crew of 4 made it.

The first show this year showed the crew of the Cornelia Marie timing themselves putting on survival suits. I have watched all these shows and that is the 1st time I have seen that.
 

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I wonder if the show will capture this heroism on a future show. Would be nice to have the CG recognized for what they did and are doing.

Like BBD said the show does show the CG from time to time. There was a vessel that went down last year. Only one of the crew of 4 made it.

The first show this year showed the crew of the Cornelia Marie timing themselves putting on survival suits. I have watched all these shows and that is the 1st time I have seen that.
They showed the crew of the Farwest leader doing the survival suit drill last year. I think the coast guard checks all the crews on this drill.
 

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Nine pieces of Eight
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They showed the crew of the Farwest leader doing the survival suit drill last year. I think the coast guard checks all the crews on this drill.
I would think so too. Now that you mention this I do remember the Farwest crew joking it up over the suits back last year.

My wife is watching this series with me this year. I told her when you eat king crab could have very well have been on this show at least until the season switch over. :D

Those guys are tougher than tough.
 

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I would think so too. Now that you mention this I do remember the Farwest crew joking it up over the suits back last year.

My wife is watching this series with me this year. I told her when you eat king crab could have very well have been on this show at least until the season switch over. :D

Those guys are tougher than tough.
A friend of mine worked on a crab boat he said it is brutal work. He was on the Aliegents boat. Now we know why crab costs so much.
 

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Great story. :))THumbsUp


I spent 2 years in Kodiak Ak on the CG Cutter Storis. It was the oldest cutter in service. They decommed it 2 years ago. Let me tell you the waters up there are no joke. I have personally seen 30ft swells and 60-90 mph winds. Those fishermen and CG personel put their lives on the line everytime they head out to sea.
 

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Don't Taze Me, Bro!
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Great story and makes me proud to be part of the organization. One thing that does not quite make sense is that they Jayhawk could not land on the Munro which is one of the biggest cutters we have, 378'. I'm pretty sure that the Jayhawk can fit on the helo pad, so there might be something else to that story. Otherwise, great job to all of those guys up there!
-Tom
All the 378's went through FRAM (Fleet Renovation And Modernization) in the '80s. One of the improvements was to the flight deck, so it would be able to handle the Jayhawk and Blackhawk helos. The Jayhawk is just a Blackhawk configured for rescue, rather than combat.

The NAVY and DOD paid for a lot of the renovation, specifically so they could support the Blackhawk. One of the reasons the Coast Guard switched to Jayhawks was because of those improvements.

Unfortunately, the 378's, which were built 40 years ago, still wouldn't take the weight of the Jayhawks. Even with the reinforcement of the flight deck, they were putting too much stress on the aft ship's structure. Although all the engineering data and mock-ups showed it would work, real world operations proved different.

USCGC Munro - 378' High Endurance Cutter


The new 418' National Security Cutters will take the Jayhawk with no problems. This is the USCGC Bertholf.
 

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Crab only cost alot down in the lower 48.
In Kodiak and Ketchikan you could go to the canerys and buy 25lbs boxes for $4 a pound. If you ever go on an Alaskan cruise stop and buy some crab.
I may be going up that way for some fishing. A friend own a resort up there some where. I will pick some up.
 
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