As reported here, the crew of the stricken Cougar Ace has been rescued and the ship abandoned. Earleir report here.
Photo by PETTY OFFICER JOSEPH ZEMCHAK / U.S. Coast Guard
UPDATE: Much credit to the Coast Guard and Air Force for taking care of the crew. Report:
The Cougar Ace had been carrying cars from Japan to Canada when it began tilting to its port side late Sunday night. The crew sent out an SOS, but the nearest Coast Guard ship was a day's journey away.
By the time a Coast Guard aircraft arrived and was able to drop three life rafts for the crew Monday morning, the ship was at an 80 degree angle, nearly on its side, officials said. The roiling waters shoved the rafts underneath the dipping port side of the ship before the crew could secure them.
Rescuers tossed another raft toward the higher starboard side, but it was a 150-foot drop to the water.
A merchant marine ship crew that was nearby was unable to rig a line to the cargo ship, and the Cougar Ace's crew was losing power in its hand-held radio.
The helicopters appeared to the crew's best chance for survival.
"We made the decision to cram in everybody," said Master Sgt. Sal Provenzano with the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center.
In a daring rescue, the crew members, who had donned survival suits aboard their troubled ship, were hoisted Monday night into two National Guard Pave Hawk helicopters and a Coast Guard helicopter, then flown 230 miles north to Adak Island. One crew member with a broken ankle was to be flown by plane to Anchorage, Provenzano said.
H-60 Pavehawk info here
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