Been an interesting few days to say the least. We hit a new top speed on our recently repaired main gas turbine racing to the scene of the fishing vessel Icy Mist. The boat was aground on Akutan Island in storm force conditions with the lives of four fisherman at risk. Initial attempts to hoist them to safety using our HH-65 helicopter were unsuccessful due to extremely high winds, darkness, and the proximity to the cliffs rising hundreds of feet right next to the beached boat. Daylight brought two HH-60 helicopters and low tide that enabled the fishermen to make it to shore and hike to an area where safe hoists could be conducted. All four men were transported to Dutch Harbor.
Saturday FINALLY brought some decent weather. No storm or gale force winds were predicted and although XO had everyone focused on our traditional Saturday activity (cleaning then more cleaning), the Law Enforcement (LE) folks were noticing calm seas, plenty of fishing boats in the area, and ready to get in the game. That afternoon, we located a fishing boat that was a good candidate and set LE phase 1 to get everyone moving in anticipation of a boarding. In short order one of our small boats was launched and the boarding team was en route.
Before they were alongside the fishing boat, another boat about 12 miles away at anchor called us on the radio. They had a crew member apparently in cardiac arrest and needed immediate assistance. Given the conditions and proximity to the case, we left the boarding team and small boat and jumped up on a turbine to close the distance to the other fishing vessel while a medical rescue and assistance team dressed out and we prepared our other small boat for launching. Our helo was en route our position from a logistics run but was still thirty miles away. One of our Corpsman and an EMT were deployed via small boat and arrived at the vessel to evaluate and prepare the fisherman for transport. Our helicopter arrived, lowered their rescue swimmer to the boat to coordinate the hoist, and moments later, the fisherman was hoisted via basket to the helo and then transported to Dutch Harbor in stable condition.
-- see full story: http://uscgalaska.com/go/doc/780/257788/
Meanwhile, the boarding team found no major violations and spot checked the safety gear providing some training on fishing log book entries before boarding the small boat and returning to us. Then the helo came back from Dutch, practiced a few landings before shutting down, getting the blades folded and rolled into the hanger before dinner - it's always pizza night on Saturdays.
Sunday was quiet with both Catholic and Protestant services held in the morning (and no reveille though people still stood watch). The cooks have added tuna fish or egg salad to the salad bar at lunch and dinner for those observing Lent. Our gym equipment as well as laundry was well used all day. Then at 1830, everyone heard the rapid ringing of a bell over our 1MC speakers signaling a shipboard emergency. The pipe that followed announced we had a major fuel oil leak in the engine room and everyone went to their fire billets. Ironically the exact same situation was occurring as we had practiced repeatedly prior to sailing - a fuel line had broken on one engine spraying fuel on a second engine that was running. Quick actions by the engineering watch team resulted in the engines being secured, fire prevented, and within hours repairs effected. Though in our drill, it actually breaks out into a huge fire that we successfully fight then desmoke the engine room. I'd rather not have the opportunity to see everyone actually perform in those conditions but we are ready!
Of course, as the Captain, to say I'm proud of my crew is a bit of an understatement.