So others may live. It’s the creed of the aviation rescue swimmer community and a promise to those in danger that when a Coast Guard rescue swimmer enters the water, she or he will do everything in their power – including risk their own life – to save you. Petty Officer 1st Class Rachid Arnick kept that promise and proved he was willing to risk his own life so others may live on the morning of Sept. 21, 2013, in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea.
Friday’s week in the life of the Coast Guard 2014 features a new response boat small in St. Petersburg, Florida, working in tight spaces at Station Seattle, gun inspections in Portsmouth, Va., local partnership training in Kodiak, Alaska and underway preparation on the Cutter Mako in Cape May, N.J.
Wednesday’s week in the life of the Coast Guard 2014 features light work on the Chesapeake Bay, keeping helicopters clean in Kodiak, Alaska, a summer station patrol near Rhode Island, making sure they’re feed at Station Cape Disappointment and getting a dewatering pump to a boat in need far way.
For the past 224 years the Coast Guard has safeguarded our nation’s maritime interests, providing a 24/7 presence along America’s rivers, ports, coastline and on the high seas. But while the Coast Guard’s presence and impact is regional, national and international, our operations are often out of sight.
The SS Marine Electric sunk amidst a strong storm off the coast of Virginia on Feb. 12, 1983. Of the crew of 34, only three survived. In response to the sinking, the Coast Guard convened a marine board to investigate the causes surrounding the disaster. The resulting report was released 30 years ago this summer and would significantly alter the safety culture throughout the maritime community.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Peter MacDougall recalled the dark and stormy nights he went out into, knowing his wife could hear the helicopter take off from their house, imagining the anxiety it caused her. He spoke about the close calls. He spoke about survivors he rescued from the grip of the sea, and the men and women he served alongside who made each of his 40 years of service special.
“Joshua James exhibited a commitment to excellence that permeates the Coast Guard to this day,” said Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger. “He embodied the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty and the guiding principles articulated in our new Commandant’s Direction long before we ever wrote them down.”
Listening to the helicopter’s rotor blades slice through the night sky while watching his feet dangle above the turbulent water, the words “never quit,” repeated over and over in his head. Never quit – words Seaman Derrian Duryea repeated to himself before high school swim meets and now words he lives by as a Coast Guardsman.
“Our goal was to get them out of the channel as fast as possible. There was no way the cargo ship would have seen them. The ship was approaching at about 15-20 knots. We only had about 15 minutes to get them out of the channel before being hit.”
The 24 hours of sunlight, enormous marine mammals and vast emptiness create an environment unlike any in the world. It’s no surprise, then, that the melting ice is enticing adventure seekers to experience the untouched frontier. As vessel traffic increases, so does the chance for an accident in this inherently dangerous maritime region. It’s the inevitability of peril that drives many Coast Guard missions, and those missions extend all the way into the Nation’s Arctic. When an adventure on the Chukchi Sea took a turn for the worse, the Coast Guard was ready to respond.