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5 Disasters

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ambassador1.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

The 442-foot British freighter AMBASSADOR lies low in the water with a 50-degree list as her port side is awash with heavy seas back with the winds peaking hurrican force.
Crewmen huddle near the bow awaiting a rescue lifeline to take them from the strucken ship to the 311-foot Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY.
Overhead an aircraft keeps an aerial vigil to spot men or liferafts in the water. A comment by one of those rescued expressed great thanks for the "feeling of comfort" having aircraft overhead and ships on scene as the AMBASSADOR drifted freely 660 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Twenty of the AMBASSADOR's 35-man crew were brought to safety. The AMBASSADOR sunk February 21 1964 while under tow to the Azores, three days after the British freighter and her crew began a fight for survival. (USCG)
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ambassador2.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

The bow of the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY is worked as close as possible to the drifting hulk of the British freighter AMBASSADOR while being thrown about by 40 to 50-foot waves. Crewmen huddle at the bow of the freighter awaiting the passing of a rescue life raft. Lines and rafts were used to transfer crewmen from the AMBASSADOR to the Coast Guard Cutter.
Hurricane force winds and heavy seas hampered rescue efforts of the AMBASSADOR's crew, some of whom were in the water when the COOS BAY arrived to take on scene command, February 19, 1964.
While commercial vessels and aircraft searched the area for drifting men and life rafts the COOS BAY concentrated on removing survivors from the AMBASSADOR's hulk.
A COOS BAY message states this account of what was going on as the cutter maneuvered dangerously close to the freighter to pick up survivors.
"COOS BAY proceeded to approach AMBASSADOR, bow to bow, with COOS BAY bow overlapping the AMBASSADOR's by 50 feet, and laying 100 feet to windward to insure passing a line. COOS BAY was drifting faster than AMBASSADOR, and had to back to clear as soon as the line was passed.
While drifting past the bow of AMBASSADOR, a rubber 15-man liferaft with protective canopy was launched and hauled to the lee side of the AMBASSADOR. COOS BAY drifted fairly fast to leeward and it became necessary to use full backing and full ahead speads to maintain position before the line was exhausted. Another coil was put into service." (USCG)
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ambassador3.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

A man hangs on to save his life as his raft drifts from the listing side of the British freighter AMBASSADOR toward the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY.
During rescue operations the COOS BAY maneuvered from one position to another taking best advantage of drift of the AMBASSADOR, wave motion, and gusting direction of the wind.
The AMBASSADOR had been dead in the water since engine failure subjected the ship to the merciless effects of heavy North Atlantic seas that washed over her decks. Winds chafed the water with gusts up to 80 knots.
February 21, 1964, after four days of high seas and hurrican force winds, the AMBASSADOR sunk with no one aboard while under tow to the Azores by the 190-foot Dutch salvage tug ELBE. (USCG)
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ambassador6.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

With a split second life saving move, two AMBASSADOR survivors are brought to the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY by life line.
Both men had been lowered from the British freighter AMBASSADOR when the knot holding one of the men became untied. The second man quickly grabbed his shipmate and held him as they were hauled to the cutter.
Twenty crewmen were successfully rescued from the AMBASSADOR after she suffered engine failure 660 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ship's first call for help was sent February 18, 1964. (USCG)
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ambassador4.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

AMBASSADOR crewman Norman Grant is brought aboard the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY by a team of wet suit clad volunteers who manned a cargo net over the side of the cutter and on several occasions went into the rough seas to retrieve survivors too weak to swim or hold a life line.
At one time, when a survivor became entangled in a rescue line, Coast Guardsman, David Bichrest, Boatswain Mate Third Class, went over the side without regard for his own safety, and cut the man free.
In all, 20 men were saved from the AMBASSADOR which sunk with no one aboard while under tow to the Azores, February 21, 1964. Eleven survivors were brought aboard the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY and nine were taken aboard the Norwegian freighter FRUEN. (USCG)
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ambassador5.jpg
USCG PHOTO

AMBASSADOR
FEBRUARY 18, 1964

The high starboard side of the 442-foot British freighter AMBASSADOR as seen from the Coast Guard Cutter COOS BAY. Lifeboats on this side of the freighter are still locked in place -- a report from the AMBASSADOR stated that the lifeboats on the starboard side could not be lowered because of the severity of the ship's 50-degree port list.

February 21, 1964, after floundering since February 18, in seas reaching the height of 50 feet and winds gusting up to 80 knots, the AMBASSADOR sunk with no one aboard. The British freighter was being towed to the Azores by the salvage tug, ELBE. The tow line broke in the heavy seas -- the AMBASSADOR keeled over, and was gone. (USCG)
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