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The Pacific Glacier, home ported in Seattle, made it back to Dutch Harbor under it’s own power after a fire threatened to destroy it in the Bering Sea.

On February 26th the Pacific Glacier caught fire at sea. First mate, Odd Rotset, summoned fire crews aboard the vessel, who were immediately sent to the area where the alarm indicated. Ships in the area were also notified of the situation taking place onboard. Those crewmen not trained in fire control immediately donned survival suits, and were the first ones evacuated from the vessel.

Within 45 minutes of the fire alarm it became obvious that progress was not being made with the fire. First mate Rotset then contacted the Coast Guard who diverted USCG Cutter Alex Haley to the fire, but it would not arrive for another five hours. Fortunately for the Pacific Glacier, there were more than a dozen ships in the area waiting to help, and they began by evacuating the 90 crew who were not trained to fight fires. Additionally, they provided firefighters and equipment. Without this help, the Pacific Glacier would have quickly used up the breathing equipment they had onboard, greatly falling short of the time they needed to get the fire under control. Without the additional equipment and firefighters, the vessel surely would have been a complete loss.

When the USGC Cutter Alex Haley arrived at midnight, the fire was still being fought onboard. By 6am the fire was finally put out. The crews fought the fire for 12 hours straight, saving the vessel. Crew berths, galley spaces, and two decks were destroyed by the fire – but the Pacific Glacier was still afloat.

Many important lessons were learned in the process of this accident:

• Contacting the Coast Guard early and often is the first of three steps mariners need to take during a shipboard fire.
• Having the necessary equipment and knowing how to use it are key to managing an emergency at sea.
• Training and continued practice is critical. Take all the training and all the repeating drills seriously.
• Partnering with other vessels in the area can be key
Source: USCG Press Release

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