April 07, 2006
On the afternoon of September 3, 2005, the 47-foot Coast Guard Motor Life Boat was on patrol in the Tongass Narrows near Ketchikan with five crewmembers aboard. Herrick was the coxswain, Losinger and Seaman Jason Meredith were crew, Fireman Brandon Underwood was the engineer and Seaman Darla George was a crewmember in training.
Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Sara Francis
Lanigan immediately notified the patrol boat of the Silver King's distress and began gathering more information. He advised the vessel to energize bilge pumps, have all persons put on life jackets, and try to ascertain the quantity and entry point of the flooding. Upon investigation, the master stated he was taking on an extreme amount of water and unable to locate the breach.
Diverting from training, the patrol boat and crew quickly responded to the Silver King's last known position at full speed. The crew immediately conducted a risk assessment, briefed, and began preparing rescue equipment for the task at hand.
During communication between the patrol boat and the Silver King, Herrick requested the Silver King make way with their one good engine towards the patrol boat to close the distance gap. This was a significant contributing factor to the success of the rescue, cutting response time down 15 minutes.
Once the patrol boat was on scene the crew observed the Silver King riding dangerously low in the water and at high risk of capsizing. Herrick quickly positioned the Coast Guard boat alongside the Silver King and directed Losinger and George to evacuate the five passengers. Once the passengers were on board the crew felt confident to attempt dewatering the vessel. Underwood and Meredith passed the portable dewatering pump to the vessel and went across; staying in direct sight of the Coast Guard boat to start dewatering.
Losinger and George medically assessed the passengers, confirmed there were no injuries and made preparations to take the Silver King in alongside tow.
Once alongside, the pump team reported that the dewatering was effective and the water level was slowly subsiding. The crew continued to investigate the source of the flooding. Once the water level had dropped enough to access the lower portion of the engine compartment it was found that the 'dead head', had in fact dislodged the vessels shaft. The collision with the heavy log completely removed the propeller and shaft from the engine. This left a two and one half inch hole below the waterline. Underwood stopped the flooding with a wooden plug, enabling Herrick to tow the vessel to the nearest marina.
There are twenty-three men and women who serve aboard United States Coast Guard Search and Rescue Station Ketchikan. Day-to-day, these young men and women conduct training, maintain their equipment and operate in some of the harshest conditions in southeast Alaska.
Outfitted with one 47-foot Motor Life Boat and two 25-foot Home Land Security response boats, Station Ketchikan's crew responded to 89 Search and Rescue cases last year; assisting 116 people, saving 10 lives and returning over 1.5 million dollars in property.
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