Always ready at port or sea
Posted by PA3 Meredith Manning, Wednesday, June 3, 2015
The 83-foot fishing tender New St. Joseph sat moored at the Cordova, Alaska, Harbor. The hull rested low in the water, the railing even with the dock. A crewmember who went to check on the vessel reported to Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders that the vessel was taking on water.
Watchstanders aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore, a 225-foot Seagoing buoy tender homeported in Cordova, also overheard the radio calls and responded with a dewatering pump.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas Haar, a damage controlman, and Seaman Brett Pierce, drove from the Sycamore’s berthing to Cordova Harbor to render assistance while the other watchstanders began calling off-duty crewmembers to assist.
“When I saw the engine room for the first time it looked like there was approximately 4-5 feet of water in the space,” said Haar.
Haar and Pierce quickly set the pump up and started dewatering the engine room. The harbormaster and a good Samaritan set up pumps in the fish hold and the bilge.
“The level of water had gone down close to a foot within a short time of starting the pump,” said Haar.
As the water receded, six off-duty Sycamore crewmembers arrived at the harbor. They helped the harbormaster deploy boom around the New St. Joseph in order to trap any oily-water that may have been discharged from the engine room and mitigate damage to the environment.
“The crew was greatly helpful,” said Tony Schinella, the Cordova harbormaster. “They had a stronger pump than we had which made the process a lot faster.”
When the water levels descended below the deck of the engine room, Chief Petty Officer Daniel Clark, a machinery technician and one of the responding off-duty crewmembers, shut off the pump and began looking for where the water was entering the vessel.
Clark found that the bilge pump system was disconnected and water was entering through the discharge opening. The crew of New St. Joseph was able to repair the damaged system, and pump the remaining water out of the bilge.
“Chief Clark gave the order to start packing up our gear and head back to the cutter,” said Haar. “When we left, the New St. Joseph was sitting a lot higher out of the water and the railing sat 2-3 feet higher than the dock.”
“This crew embodies the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus; Always Ready,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Jarnac, the commanding officer of the Sycamore. “Their actions show their commitment to helping the maritime community both on and off duty.”