An amazing rescue

I was amazed to read of the rescue of four fishermen by a US Coast Guard rescue swimmer under very difficult circumstances.

A Coast Guard spokesman called it “an amazing story,” a “monumental effort,” of the sort he’d never heard or seen before.

It started with an emergency call to the Coast Guard on marine radio at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning. The crew of the Jamie K, a 52-ft. fishing vessel, had run aground about 250 yards off Cape Blanco, Ore., lost power and was taking on water. The four fishermen on board were abandoning ship and and headed for their life boats.

That’s a routine call for the Coast Guard. They chopper over to the scene, lower a hoist and a swimmer and one by one, bring up those stranded in the water. But there was nothing routine about what happened next.

The Coast Goard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter took off from Coast Guard Station North Bend, about 60 miles north of Cape Blanco on the Pacific. It arrived at the scene fine, and began what seemed at first like a standard rescue, lowering Petty Officer 2nd Class Darren Harrity carefully into the water.

But then something went wrong and they couldn’t get the hoist back up. “A mechanical failure,” Chief Petty Officer David Mosley, a Coast Guard spokesman in Seattle told The Post.

“I think the pilot said, ‘Harrity, you’re going to be doing a lot of swimming tonight,” Harrity told KPTV.

There’s more at the link.

PO Harrity swam 250 yards to the ship, collected the first survivor, and swam with him another 250 yards to the shore.  He then did the return trip three more times to rescue the other three survivors – a total of 2,000 yards (a nautical mile) of swimming, battered by rough waves polluted by diesel fuel from the wrecked ship, and without any flotation device to aid him.  It was just his muscles, swim fins and fitness against the sea.

I think that’s an astonishing feat of courage and endurance, and testimony to PO Harrity’s physical conditioning.  I hope he receives some sort of recognition for his achievement.  I’m sure he already has the respect of his peers and colleagues.  They can hardly help it – he must clank whenever he walks past them!



  1. This happened an hour north of where I live in Port Orford OR. Those Coast Guard rescue guys ('n' gals) are amazing. Whenever one of the big orange MH-65's goes over I hope it's a training mission and not someone in danger of their life – but too often it is.

    If you're ever on the Southern Oregon coast be sure to visit the Coast Guard museum in Port Orford, on Coast Guard Hill. They have a rescue boat on display that was used for ocean rescues before the age of helicopters. They launched from a ramp in a tiny cove in conditions of waves and weather that sometimes made it impossible to return to station until after the storm had passed. Their slogan was "You have to go out, you don't have to come back."

  2. There was a rescue swimmer named Robin Pietschmann who competed on American Ninja Warrior this season. He completely crushed it in the qualifying round (1st place, "Run of the Night," did very well in the city finals (4th place), but went out during stage 1 of the Vegas finals 🙁

    He was still quite amazing.

  3. He was wearing an exposure suit. That's a fair bit of extra bouyancy by itself. That does not take away from the physical feat in cold water. The Pacific off Oregon is cold. When I lived out there we could not stay in the water all that long.

  4. It's easy to be annoyed with the Coasties when they're interrupting your fishing to check your life jackets and fire extinguishers.

    Less so with a guy like this or the Coastie I knew who did two tours of ship inspections in the Gulf.

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