The sun had set on another winter’s day in New England when a distress call rang out. It was the 80-foot fishing vessel Megan Marie and they were taking on water in 14-foot seas 100 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass.
The five fishermen aboard Megan Marie had all the required safety gear, as well as dewatering pumps, but the pumps were not keeping up with the flooding. The full gamut of resources was launched as aircrews from Cape Cod and Elizabeth City took to the skies and crews from Coast Guard cutters Seneca and Flyingfish took to the sea.
Getting the flooding to subside aboard Megan Marie was only half the battle, though. Adrift and still dozens of miles offshore, the fisherman needed help getting home. Coast Guard Cutter Flyingfish began to escort the ship, but as they battled heavy seas their starboard main diesel engine started to overheat.
The crew worked together to solve their engine problem but it was Petty Officer 2nd Class Josh Pearson’s actions that made the difference between Megan Marie’s crew making it back to homeport or not.
Pearson is a machinery technician, one of the Coast Guard’s largest enlisted ratings. As a machinery technician, Pearson is a leader and manager, with a breadth of knowledge in all areas of machinery operation and maintenance. Pearson, alongside his engineering team, discovered the seas were so large, the bottom of the cutter was being exposed to air – either from excessive side-to-side rocking or when becoming airborne over the crest of a wave.
In treacherous seas for an 87-foot patrol boat, Pearson and his team manually put potable water from the cutter into the jacket water system to get the air out of the system and allow the system to keep water running through it. This move prevented the engine from shutting down and was vital to ensuring Flyingfish could complete the mission safely.
Altogether it took close to seven hours for the Flyingfish to escort the fishermen back to homeport. Seven hours of teamwork. Seven hours of stomach-churning waves. Seven hours of devotion to duty. Thanks to Pearson’s mechanical expertise and leadership, Megan Marie pulled back into homeport; back to their families.