The U.S. Coast Guard’s job entails rescuing people in all sorts of seas and weather. Imagine being in winds akin to a hurricane level 3 (111 to 130 mph), seas to 20 feet, and heavy snow. That’s what Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak experienced this past January when it set out to rescue stranded fishermen in Portage Bay, Alaska. At the 32nd Annual Salute to the United States Coast Guard gala in New York last week, the crewmembers of that station received the Coast Guard Foundation Award for Heroism.
Why are we covering a story about a fishing boat—clearly not a megayacht? Because this isn’t a story about fishing. It’s about the work the Coast Guard personnel do on a daily basis—work that keeps all of us safe. Plenty of people in the megayacht industry, as well as megayacht owners and crew, recognize this face and gladly support the Coast Guard Foundation, which supports personnel and their families through scholarships and other financial assistance. In fact, the classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) has supported the Coast Guard Foundation for more than 25 years.
ABS’ chairman, Robert D. Somerville, was honored at the Salute to the United States Coast Guard, too, as was the Weather Channel, for its original programs Coast Guard Alaska and Coast Guard Florida, produced by Al Roker Entertainment. But really, the night belonged to the six members of Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak who accepted their award.
We can try to describe how the fishing vessel that day in January was grounded in ice and how her crew was experiencing hypothermic conditions. We can also try to describe how the Coast Guard received a second distress call from another fishing vessel that was sinking. But we’d rather the Coast Guard personnel tell you in their own voices, and you see with your own eyes what they saw and did. What they did was save the lives of 11 people. This video takes you through it all: