Abandon ship!


Don Wagner of McMillan Offshore Survival Training climbs into an immersion suit. Photo by Tom Groening

SEARSPORT — At 2 a.m., 35 miles out to sea, with winter winds howling and water temperatures around 40 degrees, there can be no two more frightening words.

On a perfect summer day off the town dock, though, “Abandon ship!” was more educational than terrifying.

Sponsored by the Penobscot Marine Museum, the demonstration by Don Wagner of McMillan Offshore Survival Training of Belfast gave visitors a glimpse into how important training and equipment are in surviving a sinking. A six-person raft that was to be used in the demonstration failed. But Wagner turned that into part of the lesson.

At sea, the raft would be removed from a canister and by pulling a line, would be filled by a charged tank of C02. The raft has a safety valve that opens if the pressure from the tank is too great, and then it closes once filled. On the raft Wagner brought, the valve failed to stay closed and so it would not hold air. The 15-year-old demonstration raft had been condemned during an inspection several years ago, he explained. “This is why it’s so important to have a raft inspected and to have survival suits,” he said.

Click here to read the full story by Tom Groening at The Working Waterfront