Daunting Tale of Easter Morning Rescue


Jay Barrett/KMXT

In March 2008, the factory trawler Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea, taking five men, including its skipper, to a watery grave. But 42 crewmen were saved in a dramatic nighttime rescue by the United States Coast Guard. California author Kalee Thompson recently published "Deadliest Sea: The Untold Story Behind the Greatest Rescue in Coast Guard History." Thompson appeared Tuesday on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock.

You can hear the entire Talk of the Rock interview with Kalee Thompson, the author of "Deadliest Sea" here .

(Deadliest 1 33 sec "The part that first interested … in a magazine story.")

She told host Diana Gish that the Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Kodiak first on the scene, responded from a forward-deployed position in Saint Paul.

(Deadliest 2 31 sec "You know if it hadn’t been … Fahrenheit with wind-chill.")

Once the Jayhawk arrived, Thompson says the crew was faced with a daunting scene:

(Deadliest 3 54 sec "They knew the boat was going … of the water, one-by-one.")

The Jayhawk crew started ferrying the Alaska Ranger’s crew to the cutter Munro, which was making its way to the scene, but the chopper was too large to land on the cutter’s helo pad, so the survivors had to be lowered back down in the rescue basket. The Jayhawk also had to refuel from the Munro while hovering over the cutter as it was underway. It was a maneuver they had practiced just two days before.

One of the complications of the rescue was that most of the crewmen did not make it into the Alaska Ranger’s three liferafts because the ship had automatically gone into full reverse.

(Deadliest 4 40 sec "When the crewmembers launched … a water ski boat.")

In the end, the Jayhawk and the HH-65 Dolphin from the Munro plucked over 20 men from the icy waters on that Easter morning. The Alaska Ranger’s sister ship, the Alaska Warrior also came to the rescue.


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