Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Longest Night

One Easter Sunday, the Alaska Ranger—a fishing boat out of Dutch Harbor—went down in the Bering Sea, 6,000 feet deep and thirty-two degrees cold. Forty-seven people were on board, and nearly half of them would spend hours floating alone in the darkness, in water so frigid it can kill a man in minutes. Forty-two of them would be rescued. Here’s how

I was drawn to Sean Flynn's incredible story of rescue in the Bering Sea partly because my company shares an office building with a fishing company and the Alaska Ranger is owned by a fishing company based in Seattle. Sean Flynn did a great job in this article, I was reading the story on a plane ride back to Seattle but Sean's style put me smack in the middle of the action, I felt the cold and darkness experienced by the survivors and the adrenaline rush experienced by the coast guard.

I'm a firm believer that if you enable smart people by providing clear goals and guidelines they will accomplish exceptional results and this story exemplified that. The decisions made by the coast guard personnels on the scene were sometimes against standard procedure but these decisions were critical in increasing the odds of survival of the distressed crewmen. There is definitely a place for not following the rule if you understand the ultimately objective which in this case was to save life.

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