>MUNRO Ship’s Journal – Kalee Thompson

>Wednesday, February 25
One Hand For the Ship

“Now. All hands hold on.” As those words were piped from the pilothouse down through the ship, the crew of the USCG Cutter Munro braced for the most impressive waves yet seen on this winter’s Bering Sea patrol. The Munro was poised to come about into massive swells. Her goal: to maintain a position close to an ongoing SAR (search and rescue) case playing out on Wednesday morning.
The 58-foot crab boat Icy Mist had run aground off a nearby island, with four fishermen on board. Two Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopters were on scene, but in the unpredictable winds, an airlift attempt directly from the stranded boat seemed perilous. Instead, the helos would wait for the tide to retreat, and the fishermen to make their way through a short stretch of surf to a safer spot for airlift. The Munro was standing by to provide in-flight refueling should the rescue take longer than expected, and the pilots find themselves too low on fuel to safely return to the fishing port of Dutch Harbor to drop their survivors.
As the Munro turned toward port, every object and person not secured was flung toward the left side of the ship. In the pilothouse, loose water bottles and spare Mustang suits slid across the floor while on lower decks shelved books slid clear across the Ward Room and loose papers and toiletries were strewn across the floors of staterooms and heads.
With a couple of minutes, the 378-foot ship was back on course, bow straight on into the growing swells. Soon she faced behemoths that reached at least twenty-five feet, crest to trough. The monster waves occasionally swallowed the ship’s narrow nose, sending a rush of green water over the bow and splashing spray clear to the pilothouse windows. The Captain ordered another pipe: Crew were invited to the pilothouse with their cameras. Soon, a small crowd of game crew members climbed to the the ship’s upper deck, removing their hats and zipping their jackets before stepping outside into the wind, bracing to the rail, and raising their cameras to the breaking seas.
Soon after the crowd cleared from the pilothouse, the Munro received the good news: One of the HH-60s had successfully airlifted the four fishermen of the Icy Mist. They had enough fuel remaining to make it safely to Dutch, though radioed their thanks that the Munro had been standing by and ready to assist during a difficult maneuver in bad weather.