Seafarers on Crowley ATB Make Another Rescue

 

November 2013

 

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Seafarers aboard Crowley’s Achievement/ 650-8 have once again saved lives off the Florida coast, marking their second rescue in nine months. This latest rescue saved the lives of four fishermen whose 30-foot boat was sinking about 35 miles offshore from Clearwater, Fla.

 

The incident occurred Sept. 15 after a sudden and powerful squall moved through the Florida coast, resulting in heavy rains, 50-knot winds and a flood of distress calls coming from small boats in the area. During all of this, the Achievement/650-8 was instructed to stand by and not proceed with its plans to enter Tampa Bay.

 

“While the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) was very responsive in assisting the boaters in distress, one fisherman in particular was having difficulty communicating over his radio, as it got drenched from the storm,” said Gus Cramer, captain of the Achievement/650-8. “It was clear, however, that he was offshore and in the stormy conditions. At that time, the Coast Guard was stretched very thin because the squall caught everyone by surprise and there were many boaters in distress. After a few minutes of monitoring their calls for assistance, it was clear that we were the closest vessel to their location, approximately 12 nautical miles south.”

 

Hoping to get to the distressed boat before the sun went down, Cramer called the Coast Guard to inform them that the Achievement/650-8 would be assisting the sinking fishing boat immediately. He and the crew then directed the ATB to the site of the distressed vessel at full speed, keeping contact with the boat the whole time.

 

“What made the rescue more difficult was the fact that the captain of the fishing boat had to keep running with the winds and waves in order to prevent the vessel from continuing to take on water and sinking,” Cramer said. “Unfortunately, the winds and waves caused them to move farther and farther away from us and further offshore. After 45 minutes of traveling in their direction, we only gained four or five miles.”

 

It took two hours for the Achievement/650-8 to spot the distressed fishermen, and the timing couldn’t have been better. Night was just about to fall and the radio of the sinking fishing boat finally gave out.

 

After readying the rescue equipment, the crew of the Achievement/650-8 lowered the pilot ladder over the side. Chief Mate Ryan Emmons then prepared it on the starboard side and directed the boat to come alongside the ATB using only his flashlight and voice commands. The ATB then made a slow, sweeping turn that allowed the four uninjured fishermen to board the vessel.

 

While the Achievement/650-8 attempted to tow the stricken fishing boat back to Tampa, the line had to be cut due to continued high seas. The crew communicated the coordinates of the boat to the Coast Guard, however, so it could be retrieved later.

 

The Achievement/650-8 finally arrived at the Tampa sea buoy at 12:30 a.m. and made its petroleum berth in downtown Tampa at 5:30 a.m. The four rescued fishermen walked off the ATB without needing any medical treatment.

 

“The Crowley crew did a phenomenal job working as a team to save the lives of these fishermen,” Cramer said. “We chose the safest possible plan and it worked because everyone knew what to do well in advance and the crew worked as a team.”

 

Of the SIU mariners aboard the Achievement/650-8, 10 of them have completed safety training at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Md. The crew has also participated in company-sponsored safety programs designed to train mariners for emergency situations.

 

“The great actions of this crew are due to their safety training, diligence and ability to work together,” said Rob Grune, Crowley’s senior vice president and general manager for petroleum and chemical transportation. “The entire Crowley family is exceptionally proud of the crew for their bravery and competency in yet another challenging situation this year. These crew members are true heroes and deserve to be recognized for their actions.”

 

The mariners aboard the Achievement/650-8 included: Capt. Cramer, Chief Mate Emmons, Second Mate Peter Madden, AB Thomas “Duke” Ellington, Third Mate Dennis Blackman, AB Louis Ferrer, Engineer Vince Mull, Assistant Engineers Zach Lindsey, Calvin Burrus, and Mark Lettieri, AB/Tankerman James Robinson and Cook Robeson Carrier.

 

The same crew was involved in another rescue earlier this year in which a badly injured man was saved while bobbing in the water near the base of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay. During that rescue, the crew pulled the man from the water within eight minutes of spotting him and kept him warm until emergency crews could arrive.

 

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