Shaken Not Stirred. The Rescue of 85 Persons Aboard Sternwheeler
posted May 6, 2010, 3:07 PM by USCG Aux Flotilla73 [ updated May 6, 2010, 10:06 PM ]
On 24Apr10 at 11:00 a call was received from a Sternwheeler on the Willamette who had lost all power and steerage and was drifting down the Willamette River at approximately river mile 024. Coxswains Brian Rollins and Ken Babick had just completed morning training evaluations with the 2010 Crew and Coxswain Academy. Both members were in the process of securing their facilities when the call came in. Each immediately responded from river mile 08.
Upon arrival at the scene, it was found that while the sternwheeler had deployed her anchor, but it wasn’t holding. The sternwheeler was drifting at a rate of approx 8 knots downstream in heavy current. She had 85 persons on board and was in danger of colliding with many fishing vessels anchored just downstream.
Coxswain Babick and his crew, Jon James, secured their boat by tying up to the sternwheeler’s port beam. Coxswain Babick immediately took control of the situation by communicating with the Captain and having all passengers don their lifejackets. Crewman James maintained radio communications and tended to the anchor by trying to get her to catch.
Simultaneously, Coxswain Rollins and crew Earl Olson began to clear the river channel of downstream boats just moments before they would have been run over by the helpless sternwheeler. There were approximately 25 recreational boats immediately downstream and in the direct path of the sternwheeler.
Both crews secured the scene, maintained communications with Sector Portland and other emergency response vessels while leading the rescue efforts.
Shortly thereafter, the tug Little Pit Bull arrived and attempted to secure the sternwheeler. Through constant communication with all Auxiliarists involved, the tug was able to safely secure the sternwheeler to a downstream piling, giving her engineer time to make repairs to the engine.
After about an hour’s work, the sternwheeler was able to safely navigate back upstream to her home moorage under Coast Guard escort. Aux members Olson, James, Babick and Rollins helped to disembark all 85 persons safely, somewhat shaken, but not stirred.
The actions helped to rescue 85 passengers aboard the sternwheeler and 25 recreational vessels representing approximately 75 recreational fishermen. The sternwheeler was values at $200,000.