WASHINGTON, D.C. – Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski late Monday commended the brave actions of the men and women of the United States Coast Guard who participated in efforts to rescue the 47-member crew of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008. As a result of their heroic efforts, 42 members of the Ranger’s crew survived.

Murkowski honored the men and women of the Coast Guard in the Senate on the first day that the body returned after its Easter Recess. She noted that the unusual rescue is already being called “one of the greatest search and rescue efforts in modern history,” by Seventeenth Coast Guard District Commander, Rear Admiral Arthur Brooks.

“This case, where large numbers of people abandoned ship directly into the water, hardly ever happens,” said Murkowski on the Senate floor.

“The risks involved in rescuing the crew of the Alaska Ranger were extreme,” she said. “It is rare to undertake a mission of this intensity and complexity. The Coast Guard faced high winds, seas, darkness, ice, and freezing temperatures all in a remote location away from support infrastructure. I am honored to praise the men and women of the Coast Guard for their heroic and successful efforts.”

The Alaska Ranger first radioed a distress call to the Coast Guard Communications Station in Kodiak at 2:52 a.m. on Sunday, March 23rd. The vessel was 120 miles west of Dutch Harbor. When the first rescue helicopter arrived on the scene two and one half hours later, the Alaska Ranger had already sunk. Every member of the crew was wearing a survival suit.

Noting that nearly 170 members of the coast guard in Alaska were involved in the rescue, Murkowski called the efforts, impressive. The rescue involved coordinating the work of rescue swimmers, helicopters, a C-130 and Coast Guard Cutters to save the lives of 42 of the crew members.

“I am honored to take a few moments from the Senate’s day to praise these men and women on a job well done. Our Nation is well served by these highly trained individuals who stand ‘always ready,’” concluded Murkowski.