The crew aboard Crowley Maritime Corporation's articulated tug-barge Achievement/650-8 recently performed a heroic rescue of an injured man who was struggling to stay afloat near the base of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Fla., according to the company.
While the 587-foot ATB was transiting Tampa Bay, the on-watch crew noticed a man bobbing in the water on the port side of the vessel around the same time that emergency radio calls from the St. Petersburg Coast Guard were issued.
One crewman responded by immediately throwing the man a life ring and Capt. Gus Cramer sounded the man overboard alarm. Putting their emergency and safety training to use, the Crowley crew readied the fast rescue boat for deployment while Capt. Cramer slowed the ATB's speed to ensure a safe boat launch.
Once in the water, the fast rescue boat manned by two crewmen motored towards the man, who by then had drifted nearly a mile and was calling for help. Despite windy conditions and rough chop, the crew managed to pull the badly injured man from the water in less than eight minutes from the initial sighting and wrapped him in a blanket until the St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue boat arrived on scene to perform other life-saving treatments.
Throughout the emergency procedures, Capt. Cramer worked closely with Tampa Bay Harbor Pilot Mike Buffington, who helped the Crowley crew perform the slow-down procedure, remained in communication with the Coast Guard and ensured that the ATB remained out of danger by avoiding oncoming vessel traffic and keeping it well within the commercial shipping lanes, the company said.
"This crew did a phenomenal job working as a team to save this man's life," said Capt. Cramer in a press release. "From the guys on the bow, to the men on the response boat, to everyone who kept the vessel safe during the rescue … it was just a fantastic, total team effort. We did our jobs safely and saved a life in the process."
The crew aboard the Achievement/650-8 is part of Crowley's petroleum services fleet. All of the company's crew members participate annually in company-sponsored safety programs, which provide training in survival tactics, shipboard firefighting, medical incidents and other relevant topics give the mariners the skills they need to survive in emergency situations.
Following the rescue, the Achievement/650-8 safely entered the Bay to deliver a load of fuel in the Port of Tampa.