Ship captained by Tomahawk native rescues sailor from sinking sailboat off coast of Charleston, S.C.
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
CHARLESTON, S.C. – A ship captained by Tomahawk native Glenn Koshak rescued a sailor from a sailboat that was sinking about 170 miles of the coast of Charleston, S.C., on June 15.
A release from American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier (ARC) said its ship, the M/V Endurance, which had just loaded more than 1,900 pieces of high-priority military cargo destined for Europe to support ongoing NATO exercises, responded to a “mayday” call from the Black Pearl, a 30-foot craft that was going down 12 nautical miles from their position.
According to the Seafarers International Union (SIU), the Black Pearl reportedly had been taking on water for 24 hours. The ship’s bilge pump – a piece of equipment that removes water that collects in the bottom of the inside of the hull, known as the “bilge” – had stopped working.
Koshak, the captain of the Endurance, said the distressed sailboat was spotted through binoculars by the able seaman (AB) on watch at about nine nautical miles’ distance.
Meanwhile, the crew of the Endurance was preparing to make the rescue.
“The chief mate, bosun and deck crew were readying the starboard pilot ladder and marshalling emergency equipment at the starboard pilot door,” Koshak told SIU. “The engine crew were readying the ship’s generators to use the bow thruster and getting prepared for maneuvering.”
Koshak said the mate on watch informed the captain of the Black Pearl of Endurance’s intentions, and the Black Pearl’s captain stated that the water was above the settee, the sailboat’s couch. The captain also said he did not know how long he would have communications due to the water rising nearly to the level of the radio equipment.
“The master of the 868-foot Endurance circled around to the east and cautiously approached the Black Pearl, keeping her at about 20 meters’ distance from the starboard side,” Koshak stated.
Once the Endurance had come to a stop and the Black Pearl was positioned near the starboard pilot ladder, the captain of the Black Pearl abandoned the sinking sailboat and boarded his dinghy. The exhausted captain then paddled the small, inflatable craft 20 meters to the pilot ladder and boarded the Endurance.
The crew greeted the shipwrecked sailor with urgency, Koshak noted, removing his soaked shoes and giving him blankets and dry clothes. He was checked by the ship’s medical officer, and his vitals were relayed to the U.S. Coast Guard.
The captain of the Black Pearl was in OK condition upon boarding the Endurance, reporting a swollen elbow and a bruise on his side, Koshak said. The steward department provided him with Gatorade and food, and he was later transferred at sea to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Yellowfin before returning to Charleston.
“The crew of the Endurance acted with urgency and professionalism to ensure the safe rescue of the captain of the sailboat,” Koshak stated. “They put their merchant marine training to the test, and because of that, a man is alive today. Merchant mariners rely on our brothers and sisters of the sea in times of crisis and always keep a weathered eye on the horizon.”
In 2005, Koshak earned the rank of Eagle Scout and graduated from Tomahawk High School. After high school, Koshak graduated from Texas A&M Maritime Academy and served on several ships, working his way up from 3rd mate, to 2nd mate, to 1st mate before ultimately becoming captain of his own ship.
Koshak’s parents, Evan and Judy Koshak, live in Tomahawk and are the owners of Tomahawk Builders Supply Company, Inc.
Koshak said helping a sailor in distress on the open seas is “a moral imperative, regardless of the priority of our cargo.”
“I’m just happy we could help,” he added.