Commercial tug crew rescues Florida man

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The crew aboard Crowley Maritime Corp.’s articulated tug-barge Achievement/650-8 recently rescued an injured man who was struggling to stay afloat near the base of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida’s Tampa Bay, according to the company.

As the 587-foot tug-barge transited the bay, the on-watch crew noticed a man bobbing in the water on the port side of the vessel about the same time that the St. Petersburg Coast Guard issued emergency radio calls.

One crewman responded by immediately throwing the man a life ring. Capt. Gus Cramer sounded the man-overboard alarm. Putting their emergency and safety training to use, the Crowley crew readied a rescue boat for deployment while Cramer slowed the barge to ensure that the boat was launched safely.

Once in the water, the rescue boat, manned by two crewmembers, motored toward 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 a St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue boat arrived to provide other lifesaving treatment.

During the emergency, Cramer worked with Tampa Bay harbor pilot Mike Buffington, who helped the Crowley crew perform the slowdown procedure, remained in communication with the Coast Guard and ensured that the barge 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,” Cramer said in a statement. “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 crewmembers participate annually in company-sponsored safety programs, which provide training in survival tactics, shipboard firefighting, medical incidents and other topics to give the mariners the skills needed in emergency situations.

After the rescue, the Achievement/650-8 safely entered Tampa Bay to deliver a load of fuel at the Port of Tampa.

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