Alaskan Mariners to Receive Public Service Award

JUNEAU, Alaska – Captain Phil Taylor and the crew of the motor vessel Columbia will be presented the Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award in Juneau tomorrow for their role in assisting in the rescue of passengers aboard the cruise ship Empress of the North on May 14, 2007.

The Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award is the second highest award the Coast Guard can present for unusual courage in the advancement of Coast Guard missions (search & rescue).

Shortly after midnight on May 14, the Empress of the North ran aground on Rocky Island Light in Southeast Alaska with 281 passengers and crew on board.

The motor vessel Columbia responded to a Coast Guard Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and diverted from their original destination. Upon their arrival on scene with the cruise ship, the Columbia volunteered as a host platform for the 252 passengers that had been already evacuated from the grounded cruise ship.

The Columbia teamed with the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Liberty and four other vessels to safely transport the 252 passengers between the Empress of the North and the Columbia. Captain Taylor and his crew were instrumental to the overall success of the rescue effort, one of the largest in Alaska history. None of the passengers were injured during the rescue evolution.

The ceremony for the presentation of this award will be held at 10 a.m. in the Alaska Department of Transportation Building located at 3132 Channel Drive room 140 on the first floor.

For more information contact Coast Guard public affairs at 907-463-2065.

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