Submitted by: Steven Craig
The true story of the grounding and near-sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis in November of 1972 off the coast of Alaska.
"Now powerless, the Jarvis was drifting toward the dauntingly rocky cliff of Battery Point, on the south side of Akutan Island. As temperatures dropped inside the ship to near freezing; crewmembers recalled seeing their breath when talking or breathing. Parkas and heavy weather gear were worn inside the vessel, along with heavy boots even when resting. Those sleeping in the upper bunks found themselves thrown from their beds due to the severe ship rolls. Crewmembers in the lower bunks resorted to tying themselves onto the racks to prevent being thrown out.
It was so cold one crewmember reported seeing icebergs outside earlier. The freezing temperatures, and in many cases the wet condition of the members, existed for days. In the entire time, the ship rocked with forty to fifty-knot winds and huge swells. At 6:57 pm, the water level rose over the deck plates in the engine room and all available pumps were ordered into use.
With the SOS sent, the Executive Officer, Commander White, immediately ordered the senior aviation officer, LT John Huddleston, to the bridge. There, White explained the command’s plans to abandon ship. The combined effects of the sea swells, the large sail area of the Jarvis, the extreme wind conditions, and the attached helicopter, all contributed to heavy rolling. There wasn’t much the Jarvis could do about Mother Nature, but there was something they could do about the helicopter: drop it off the side. He further explained they were desperately running out of fuel for the generators and a Coast Guard C-130 airplane was on the way to drop off fuel barrels onto the deck. The plan was to lessen the weight of the ship and to clear the flight deck for parachute drops of fuel barrels. The helicopter had to go. Huddleston returned to discuss the orders with his crew. Despite the inherent dangers of severe winds and heavy seas, they all agreed to attempt to launch the helo."
Book will be available December 1 (approx.) at various outlets including Amazon.com, Hellgate Press or direct from the author.
About the author:
Steven Craig is a retired Coast Guard reserve captain with over 38 years of both active and reserve service and a member of the American Legion. He is also a retired postmaster with the U.S. Postal Service. During his period of Coast Guard service, he actively participated with Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the 2010 Haiti earthquake port recovery planning, the 9/11 response in Seattle, APEC maritime security planning in Honolulu, 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, to name a few. Prior to his commissioning, Craig held the rank of senior chief petty officer in the Coast Guard. He holds a master’s degree in emergency management and has held associated jobs with federal, state, college, county and local agencies. Steven Craig previously taught as a professor at a university in Italy and has spoken at several disaster conferences including in Rome, Italy. He and his wife Rachel, along with two dachshunds, are frequent travelers between homes in Washington State and Arizona. His contact e-mail address is Scraig7002@gmail.com and his website is www.stevenjcraigbooks.com