SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska




January 18, 2008

(SitNews) - Captain Phil Taylor and the crew of the Alaska Marine Highway vessel Columbia will be presented the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award in Juneau this morning for their role in assisting in the rescue of passengers aboard the cruise ship Empress of the North on May 14, 2007.

The Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award is the second highest award the Coast Guard can present for unusual courage in the advancement of Coast Guard missions (search & rescue).

"The efforts of Captain Taylor and Columbia's crew will long serve as an example of true selflessness and heroism to many people for years to come," said Leo von Scheben, Commissioner, DOT&PF.

jpg Empress of the North

Passengers of the Cruise Ship Empress of the North being offloaded onto the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty and volunteer civilian vessels after running aground. The Liberty took on 130 of the 248 passengers before offloading them onto the passenger vessel Columbia, which transported them back to the city of Juneau.
Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Chris Caskey

Shortly after midnight on May 14, the Empress of the North ran aground on Rocky Island Light in Southeast Alaska with 281 passengers and crew on board.

The motor vessel Columbia responded to a Coast Guard Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and diverted from their original destination. Upon their arrival on scene with the cruise ship, the Columbia volunteered as a host platform for the 252 passengers that had been already evacuated from the grounded cruise ship.

The Columbia teamed with the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Liberty and four other vessels to safely transport the 252 passengers between the Empress of the North and the Columbia. Captain Taylor and his crew were instrumental to the overall success of the rescue effort, one of the largest in Alaska history. None of the passengers were injured during the rescue evolution.

The ceremony for the presentation of this award will be held Friday at 10 a.m. in the Alaska Department of Transportation Building located at 3132 Channel Drive room 140 on the first floor.



Source of News:

United States Coast Guard

Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities


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