LATITUDE 48° 14 N. LONGITUDE 174° 26 W.

Almost midnight on the North Pacific, about 230 miles south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. A heavy fog blankets the sea. There's nothing but the wind spinning eddies through the mist.

Out of the darkness, a rumble grows. The water begins to vibrate. Suddenly, the prow of a massive ship splits the fog. Its steel hull rises seven stories above the water and stretches two football fields back into the night. A 15,683-horsepower engine roars through the holds, pushing 55,328 tons of steel. Crisp white capital letters — COUGAR ACE — spell the ship's name above the ocean froth. A deep-sea car transport, its 14 decks are packed with 4,703 new Mazdas bound for North America.
“Estimated cargo value: $103 million.

On the bridge and belowdecks, the captain and crew begin the intricate process of releasing water from the ship's ballast tanks in preparation for entry into US territorial waters. They took on the water in Japan to keep the ship steady, but US rules require that it be dumped here to prevent contaminating American marine environments. It's a tricky procedure. To maintain stability and equilibrium, the ballast tanks need to be drained of foreign water and simultaneously refilled with local water. The bridge gives the go-ahead to commence the operation, and a ship engineer uses a hydraulic-powered system to open the starboard tank valves. Water gushes out one side of the ship and pours into the ocean. It's July 23, 2006.

In the crew's quarters below the bridge, Saw "Lucky" Kyin, the ship's 41-year-old Burmese steward, rinses off in the common shower. The ship rolls underneath his feet. He's been at sea for long stretches of the past six years. In his experience, when a ship rolls to one side, it generally rolls right back the other way.

This time it doesn't. Instead, the tilt increases. For some reason, the starboard ballast tanks have failed to refill properly, and the ship has abruptly lost its balance. At the worst possible moment, a large swell hits the Cougar Ace and rolls the ship even farther to port. Objects begin to slide across the deck. They pick up momentum and crash against the port-side walls as the ship dips farther. Wedged naked in the shower stall, Kyin is confronted by an undeniable fact: The Cougar Ace is capsizing.

He lunges for a towel and staggers into the hallway as the ship's windmill-sized propeller spins out of the water. Throughout the ship, the other 22 crew members begin to lose their footing as the decks rear up. There are shouts and screams. Kyin escapes through a door into the damp night air. He's barefoot and dripping wet, and the deck is now a slick metal ramp. In an instant, he's skidding down the slope toward the Pacific. He slams into the railings and his left leg snaps, bone puncturing skin. He's now draped naked and bleeding on the railing, which has dipped to within feet of the frigid ocean. The deck towers 105 feet above him like a giant wave about to break.
4 am. A phone rings.
Rich Habib opens his eyes and blinks in the darkness. He reaches for the phone, disturbing a pair of dogs cuddled around him. He was going to take them to the river for a swim today. Now the sound of his phone means that somewhere, somehow, a ship is going down, and he's going to have to get out of bed and go save it.

It always starts like this. Last Christmas Day, an 835-foot container vessel ran aground in Ensenada, Mexico. The phone rang, he hopped on a plane, and was soon on a Jet Ski pounding his way through the Baja surf. The ship had run aground on a beach while loaded with approximately 1,800 containers. He had to rustle up a Sikorsky Skycrane — one of the world's most powerful helicopters — to offload the cargo.

Ship captains spend their careers trying to avoid a collision or grounding like this. But for Habib, nearly every month brings a welcome disaster. While people are shouting "Abandon ship!" Habib is scrambling aboard. He's been at sea since he was 18, and now, at 51, his tanned face, square jaw, and don't-even-try-bullshitting-me stare convey a world-weary air of command. He holds an unlimited master's license, which means he's one of the select few who are qualified to pilot ships of any size, anywhere in the world. He spent his early years captaining hulking vessels that lifted other ships on board and hauled them across oceans. He helped the Navy transport a nuclear refueling facility from California to Hawaii. Now he's the senior salvage master — the guy who runs the show at sea — for Titan Salvage, a highly specialized outfit of men who race around the world saving ships.

They're a motley mix: American, British, Swedish, Panamanian. Each has a specialty — deep-sea diving, computer modeling, underwater welding, big-engine repair. And then there's Habib, the guy who regularly helicopters onto the deck of a sinking ship, greets whatever crew is left, and takes command of the stricken vessel.

Salvage work has long been viewed as a form of legal piracy. The insurers of a disabled ship with valuable cargo will offer from 10 to 70 percent of the value of the ship and its cargo to anyone who can save it. If the salvage effort fails, they don't pay a dime. It's a risky business: As ships have gotten bigger and cargo more valuable, the expertise and resources required to mount a salvage effort have steadily increased. When a job went bad in 2004, Titan ended up with little more than the ship's bell as a souvenir. Around the company's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it's known as the $11.6 million bell.

But the rewards have grown as well. When the Titan team refloated that container ship in Mexico, the company was offered $30 million, and it's holding out for more. That kind of money finances staging grounds in southern Florida, England, and Singapore and pays the salaries of 45 employees who drive Lotuses, BMWs, and muscle cars tricked out with loud aftermarket DynoMax exhaust systems. There's also a wall at Titan headquarters with a row of photos of the men who died on the job. Three have been killed in the past three years.

Titan's biggest competitors are Dutch firms, which have dominated the business for at least a century due in part to the pumping expertise they developed to keep their low-lying lands dry. But 20 years ago, a couple of yacht brokers in southern Florida — David Parrot and Dick Fairbanks — got fed up dealing with crazy, rich clients and decided that saving sinking ships would be more fun. They didn't really know much about the salvage business but thought that the Dutch companies had come to rely too much on heavy machinery. When a ship was in distress, the Dutch firms invariably wanted to use their impressive fleet of tugs and heavy-lift cranes. Fairbanks envisioned a different kind of salvage company — one with no tugs or cranes of its own. Instead, the new outfit would buy jet-ready containers for pumps and generators, and when a ship called for help the Titan team would charter anything from a Learjet to a 747, fly it to the airport nearest the ship, and then hire a speedboat or a helicopter to get a team aboard. If they needed a tug, they'd rent one.


Titan's business plan hinged on the idea that ships could be saved by human ingenuity, not horsepower, and the company's unconventional approach worked. When a container ship ran aground in a remote part of Iceland in the mid-'90s, the Dutch wanted to bring in their cranes. Titan jury-rigged the ship's own 198-ton cranes and used those instead — no long-distance transport needed. In 1992, a freighter sank alongside a dock in Dunkirk, France. Again, the Dutch called for cranes, but Titan won the contract by proposing a novel approach: It hired a naval architect to create a computer model of the ship. The model indicated that the vessel would float again if water was pumped out of the holds in a specific sequence. Titan put the plan into action using a few crates of relatively inexpensive pumps; the ship bobbed to the surface as if by magic. Since then, a naval architect capable of rapidly building digital 3-D ship models has been a key member of the Titan team.

Jolted awake in Wyoming, Habib pushes himself out of bed. His dogs cluster around him. He gives Beauregard a scratch behind the ear. Clearly the dogs want to go along, but he'll need a little more help than they can give. It's time to mobilize the Titan A-team.

Marty Johnson zips through the traffic in his black BMW Z3 convertible. He's wearing shades, and though he just turned 40 he has a boyish look that suits the car. But the cool-guy persona has its limits. He just learned how to drive a stick shift, so he takes the long way around town to avoid hills. He is actually a shy naval architect who likes to discuss the early history of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth and certain aspects of particle physics. But he has a taste for fast cars and the money to buy them, thanks to an unusual ability to build digital models of ships.

Since graduating first in his class from New York's Webb Institute, a preeminent undergraduate naval architecture school, Johnson has traveled the world with his laptop, building 3-D models and helping refloat sunken things. He was on the team that recovered the Japanese fishing trawler sunk by a US submarine off Hawaii in 2001, and he oversaw a system to lift a submerged F-14 from 220 feet of water near San Diego in 2004. In his free time, he wins boat races in which the skippers build their vessels from scratch in six hours or less.

But so far, Johnson has refloated only vessels that are already sunk. Most days, he's cooped up in an office at the port, waiting for something exciting to happen. His skills don't go to waste — he's particularly well known for designing a 76-foot tugboat able to navigate rivers as shallow as 3 feet. But Johnson wants more; he wants to be one of those guys who drops onto the deck of a sinking ship and saves the day.

He's about to get his chance. His office calls: Rich Habib wants him on a salvage job for the history books — one Johnson might have missed if not for a lucky break. Habib's usual 3-D modeler, Phil Reed, is visiting his in-laws in Chicago, and his wife won't let him go to Alaska. He recommends Johnson, who has worked with Habib once before.

The job is daunting: Board the Cougar Ace with the team and build an on-the-fly digital replica of the ship. The car carrier has 33 tanks containing fuel, freshwater, and ballast. The amount of fluid in each tank affects the way the ship moves at sea, as does the weight and placement of the cargo. It's a complex system when the ship is upright and undamaged. When the cargo holds take on seawater or the ship rolls off-center — both of which have occurred — the vessel becomes an intricate, floating puzzle.

Johnson will have to unravel the complexity. He'll rely on ship diagrams and his own onboard measurements to re-create the vessel using an obscure maritime modeling software known as GHS — General HydroStatics. The model will allow him to simulate and test what will happen as water is transferred from tank to tank in an effort to use the weight of the liquid to roll the ship upright. If the model isn't accurate, the operation could end up sinking the ship.

Habib thinks Johnson is up to the task. In 2004 they worked together on a partially sunken passenger ferry near Sitka, Alaska. The hull was gashed open on a rock — water had flooded in everywhere. The US Coast Guard safety officer told Habib and Johnson to get off the ship, saying it was about to sink completely. It was too dangerous.

Habib refused. His point of view: It was his ship now, and he would do what he wanted. The safety officer reprimanded Habib and told him that no ship was worth "even the tip of your pinky."

Habib smiled. Insurance lawyers have calculated the value of a pinky — $14,000, tops — and that's far less than the value of a modern commercial vessel.

Johnson told the Coast Guard not to worry; the ferry would be floating again in three days at exactly 10:36 in the morning. The Coast Guard was skeptical but, three days later, as the tide peaked at 10:36 am, the ferry bobbed up and floated off the rock. It was a rush to be that right.

So when he gets the message inviting him to join the team headed to the Cougar Ace, his only question is:
"When do we leave?"

And if I say to you tomorrow, take my hand child come with me. The languid sound of Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" drifts across the Caribbean. A 24-foot fishing boat lolls in the blue waters, the stereo cranked up in the wheelhouse. It's to a castle I will take you, where what's to be they say will be. The island of Trinidad — lush, green, rugged — is just off the port bow. A few beers remain in the bottom of the boat's 98-can cooler, and a bottle of Guyanese rum sloshes about on the floorboards. On the back deck, a fishing pole droops lazily from the densely tattooed arm of Colin Trepte: boat owner, rum drinker, and deep-sea diver who's always ready with a roguish grin for the ladies.

Trepte loves days like this — mid-80s, a couple of snapper in the bucket, and the sun warm on his face. A sign in the wheelhouse states "This is My Ship, and I'll Do as I Damn Please." A silver skull dangles from a loop on his left ear.

Trepte's youth in the east end of London seems a long way off. The tattoos tell the story: The naked, big-breasted woman on his forearm stares at a demon etched in Puerto Rico, where a cargo ship ran aground. The dragon on his shoulder is from Iceland, where he cut a grounded freighter into pieces. Some of the designs have only been outlined — a crystal ball on his back remains deliberately empty. It represents the fact that, as a Titan salvage diver, he never knows when the phone will ring. And when it does, he could be bound for Eritrea or Tierra del Fuego, and the only real question is which bag to bring — cold weather or warm. Both are packed, waiting ashore in his bungalow outside Port of Spain on Trinidad.

His cell rings. It's Habib. Trepte sighs. All good days must come to an end.
"Cold weather or warm, mate?" Trepte asks

In the hours since the Cougar Ace rolled, the Coast Guard and Air National Guard have scrambled three helicopters from Anchorage and, in a daring rescue effort, plucked the entire 23-man crew off the ship. Nyi Nyi Tun, the ship's captain, has ordered his crew to stay mum on the cause of the accident, and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines — the ship's owners — have declined to offer a detailed explanation. Because the incident occurred in international waters, the Coast Guard has decided not to investigate any further. Only Lucky Kyin talked that night. He was whisked to an Anchorage hospital, where a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News asked him how he felt. His answer: "The whole body is pain." As to the cause of the accident, all Kyin will offer is that it interrupted his shower.

Right now, it doesn't really matter how it happened. What matters is that the Cougar Ace has become a multimillion-dollar ghost ship drifting toward the rocky shoals of the Aleutian Islands. What's worse, according to the crew, the ship is taking on water. The Coast Guard alone doesn't have the capability or expertise to handle this kind of emergency, and officials fear that the ship will sink or break up on shore. Either way, the cars would be lost, and the 176,366 gallons of fuel in the ship's tanks would threaten the area's wildlife and fishing grounds. Mazda, Mitsui, and their insurers would take a massive hit.

At first, executives at Mitsui seem to think the ship is a lost cause. They contact Titan, but then they wait for about 24 hours, apparently under the impression that the vessel will go down before anybody can save it. When they realize that it will stay afloat long enough to break up on the shore of the Aleutians, they agree to sign what's known as a Lloyd's Open Form agreement. It's a so-called no-cure, no-pay arrangement. If Titan doesn't save the ship, it doesn't get paid. But if it succeeds, its compensation is based on the value of the ship and the cargo — in this case, a still-to-be-calculated fortune.

With the deal done, Titan charters a Conquest turboprop out of Anchorage. The propellers sputter to life. The Titan crew buckles in for the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Dutch Harbor, a small fishing town about 800 miles west of Anchorage on the Aleutian chain.

But before they take off, a final member of the team hops on. It's Titan mechanic Hank Bergman, the Swedish cowboy. As a young man in a small town in Sweden, Bergman inexplicably developed an affinity for Hank Williams and fantasized about the American West. He took a job as a ship engineer to get out of Sweden and soon built a reputation as a man who could fix anything, no matter how big. He has been with Titan since its beginning; as a result, he's had the money to buy land in Durango, Colorado, stock his 864-square-foot garage with two Jeeps and a classic Mercedes-Benz 560SL, and play cowboy whenever he wants. Now he boards the small plane wearing his trademark black leather cowboy boots and says hello to everyone in his pronounced Swedish accent.

The team — Habib, Johnson, Trepte, and Bergman — arrives in Dutch Harbor and heads out to sea at top speed aboard the Makushin Bay, a 130-foot ship readied for salvage work. It's stacked with generators, steel-cutting equipment, machining tools, and salvage pumps that can remove water from the ship or transfer it from one hold to another. Johnson's laptop is loaded with GHS, and he begins building a rough model of the ship based on photographs and diagrams emailed from the owners.

After more than a day of full-speed motoring through the North Pacific, the Titan team spies theCougar Ace. At first, it's only a sharp rise on the horizon. But as the Makushin Bay approaches, the scale of the ship dwarfs the salvage vessel. In the distance, a 378-foot Coast Guard cutter — complete with helicopter and 76-mm cannon — looks puny compared with the car carrier. It's as if the men have gone through some kind of black hole and emerged as miniatures in a new and damaged world. TheCougar Ace lies on its side, its enormous red belly exposed to the smaller boats around it. The propeller floats eerily out of the water, the rudder flopped hard to port in the air.
Holy fuck,Trepte mutters.

Six hours later, an HH-65 Coast Guard helicopter flies the team to the ship and lowers the guys one by one onto the tilted deck in a steel basket. Dan Magone, the owner of the Makushin Bay, comes with them. He's a local salvage master himself and an expert on the region's currents, tides, weather, and shoals. He has spent more than 27 years saving fishing boats in the area and is along as an adviser to, in his words, "the big shots."

The ship is rocking, but the sea is calm, and Habib thinks it's holding steady at a list of about 60 degrees. Titan's first mission: hunt for water on board. Johnson needs to know exactly how much water is sloshing around the cargo holds so he can input the data into the digital model he's constructing.

Habib unloads coils of rope from his backpack. Descending into the sharply tilted ship will require mountaineering skills. Fortunately, Habib knows what he's doing: He once scaled a 2,300-foot frozen waterfall and recalls with fondness summiting a notoriously difficult peak in the Canadian Rockies. On the way down, he was attacked by a wolf. The faded scar makes him chuckle. Maybe the mountain adventures put things in perspective. After all, this is just a giant sideways ship floating loose in the Pacific, not a deranged wolf on his back.

The guys click their LED headlamps on. The generators have gone dead, and it'll be pitch-dark below. The ship's thick steel sidewalls block radio reception, so once the men are below they won't be able to communicate with the outside world. All they'll have is each other.

Deep within the ship, the men dangle on ropes inside an angled staircase and peer through a doorway into the number-nine cargo deck. Their lights partially illuminate hundreds of cars tilted on their side, sloping down into the darkness. Each is cinched to the deck by four white nylon straps. Periodically a large swell rolls the ship, straining the straps. A chorus of creaks echoes through the hold. Then, as the ship rolls back, the hold falls silent. It's a cold, claustrophobic nightmare slicked with trickling engine oil and transmission fluid. Trepte lowers a rope and eases into the darkness.

Everyone is wearing a harness with two carabiners attached to short straps. They've tied loops every few feet into some of their ropes, creating a series of descending handholds. Like rock climbers rappelling in slow motion, they back down the steep deck, lowering themselves one looped handhold at a time. Habib tells them to always keep one carabiner attached to a loop in the rope; that way, if they fall, the rope will save them.

They reach the middle of the deck. There's a ramp built into the side of the hull at this level — it's for driving cars on and off the ship. Now a good deal of the ramp's exterior is about 25 feet underwater. It's got a thick rubber seal, but it wasn't designed to take the pressure of submersion. Habib thinks it might be leaking.

Sure enough, as they descend farther, Trepte sees green water with a sheen of oil. The water is about 8 feet deep and runs the length of the compartment — dozens of new Mazdas can be seen beneath the murky surface like drowning victims. It means the seal has been compromised. It's leaking slowly and could fail completely at any moment. If that happened, seawater would fill the deck in a matter of minutes and drown them all. But Habib figures that since it has lasted this long, it's probably OK for now.
When the Titan Salvage crew first boarded the Cougar Ace, they needed to determine the extent of flooding in the holds. To get there, the men had to climb using ropes and harnesses. The mission, step-by-step:
1. Airlift to the ship on an HH-65 Coast Guard helicopter.

2. Descend through a tilted stairwell.

3. Open the access hatch to the ninth deck and rappel past hundreds of Mazdas.

4. Survey the flooding and retrace the route back to the surface of the ship.

5. Shimmy along the top side to the rear of the ship, then climb a ladder to the back-deck opening.

6. Use ropes to descend the back desk. From low side, jump onto a support boat.
Trepte measures the dimensions of the wedge of water in the hold using a metal weight and string and shouts out the numbers. While Johnson does some trigonometry on a small pad of paper, Habib accidentally steps on one of the straps securing a car, and the Mazda lurches downward with a screech. Trepte looks up with a start and realizes that he's at the bottom of a suspended automotive avalanche. Dozens of cars hang over his head. If one broke its straps, it would trigger a domino effect, sending a pile of Mazdas down on top of him.
“Ay, mate, try not to kill me down here, won’t ya?” Trepte shouts up to Habib.

“Rog-o,” echoes the response from the shadows.
Johnson finishes his calculations — the wedge of water weighs 1,026 tons, part of the weight keeping the ship pinned on its side. They will have to pump this water overboard and then fill the high-side tanks to add enough ballast to bring the ship back to an even keel. According to Johnson's preliminary computer simulations, pumping 160.9 tons into the starboard-side tanks will do the trick. But the model shows that any more than that may roll them all the way over to the other side.

"You're talking about a flop?" Habib asks.

"That's what I'm saying," Johnson replies.

The situation is more precarious than Habib had thought. If they overfill the high-side starboard tanks, the Cougar Ace will roll back to normal — but then keep going, potentially in a matter of seconds. Everybody on board would be catapulted from one side of the ship to the other, and the car straps could snap. If the cars were to pile up on one side, the added weight would create even more momentum, causing the ship to roll upside down and sink.

To avoid that, they need to pump a precise amount of water. It's Johnson's job to figure out exactly how much. In an ideal world, he would plug in data for the position and weight of all the cars and the amount of liquid in each of the ship's 33 tanks and 14 decks. Unfortunately, there's not enough time to collect all that information. He'll have to do some guessing and hope his instincts are good.

It's getting dark by the time they emerge from inside the ship — they were down for more than three hours — and Habib decides not to ask the Coast Guard to pull them off by helicopter. It would be risky in the twilight. Given the calm sea, he figures they can make their way to the back deck of the ship and jump from the low port side onto the Makushin Bay.

But when they reach the back and take stock of the situation, it doesn't seem that simple. If the deck were flat, they could just walk straight across. But now it's a 105-foot metallic cliff dotted with keg-sized steel bollards. If one of the guys were to slip when not clipped in to a rope, no amount of clawing on the hard surface would arrest his slide. He would rocket down the 60-degree incline with only the blunt steel of the bollards to break his fall.

What's worse, the automated fire-prevention system vents onto the deck. Since the generators have been down for days, the system's chilled liquid carbon dioxide is warming and expanding. Every few minutes, the oxygen-snuffing chemical explodes out of the vent in a raging, negative-110-degree cloud. Direct exposure could cause frostbite and even suffocation. Habib has tested the area with an oxygen monitor, and despite the deafening white clouds of gas that periodically explode across the deck he assures everyone that there's plenty of fresh, breathable air.

Still, the situation makes Johnson nervous. He's standing on the side of a giant winch 25 feet above the vent. He'll have to climb through the blast area to get off the ship, and his backpack is stuffed with 30 pounds of gear. It's going to be difficult to move down the looped lines with that extra, cumbersome weight.

Magone is anxious to get off the ship before nightfall makes it too difficult to jump onto the Makushin Bay. He begins to back down the deck, followed by Trepte and Bergman. The carbon dioxide explodes out of the vent, raining down slivers of dry ice. They pause to shield their faces and then keep descending.

Johnson's nervousness mounts, and he stays put. He tells Habib that his backpack is bothering him. Habib offers to climb back up to the helicopter drop zone — there's extra rope there, which he can use to lower the backpack. While Johnson twists his way out of the pack, Habib heads back up toward the drop zone.

When he reaches the lower end of the deck, Magone looks up and sees that Johnson still hasn't started his descent. "What's taking him so long," Magone wonders. "Ready for the next guy!" he shouts.

A moment passes, and suddenly Johnson is hurtling down. He blurs past Bergman, screaming. Johnson is falling, and he isn't clipped in to anything. His body ricochets off a steel stanchion, sending him into an uncontrollable spin. He plunges upside down past Trepte. Nobody has time to react — in little more than a second, he has fallen 80 feet and his head smashes into a winch, with a sickening thud. His face smacks the metal, ripping a deep laceration in his forehead. Water sloshes just below him. Blood drips into it.

"Shit, shit, shit!" Trepte shouts. He steadies himself for a moment, then radios Habib:
“Marty's had a tumble.”

On the top deck, Habib is coiling rope. "A tumble?" he thinks. He keeps coiling for a few seconds. A tumble's not a big deal — a tumble is like a slip and a twisted ankle. But then he realizes that a tumble for someone like Trepte could mean falling out of an airplane with no parachute. Trepte wouldn't call him unless it's serious, unless Johnson were truly injured or unconscious.

"Is he conscious?" Habib radios back, a note of rising fear in his voice.

"No," Trepte's voice squawks through the radio.

Habib hurls the rope down and races back the length of the ship. He climbs as fast as he can down the looped line through the carbon dioxide blast zone. Magone has swung over to the winch in the center of the deck and is struggling to stay in position over Johnson.

"Is he breathing?" Habib shouts.

Magone can't tell. Johnson is face down, and Magone is afraid to move him by himself. Habib swings over on a rope, and together they roll Johnson face up. His eyes are open, staring straight through Habib. No blinking. No movement. There's blood everywhere and he doesn't seem to be breathing, but he has a pulse. He's alive.

Habib's heart is racing. There's a chance. He starts mouth-to-mouth just as a boat crashes into the Cougar Ace only feet from Habib and Magone. It's the Emma Foss, a 101-foot tug whose crew, alerted by the radio exchange, has come to help. But the collision rips off a piece of the railing that's supporting Habib. He splashes into the cold water beneath the winch. In an instant, he muscles himself back up beside Johnson.

"Let's get him off," Habib shouts. He's thinking, "He can make it. He's got a pulse."

A stretcher is passed over from the Emma Foss. The men strap Johnson in and transfer him to the tug, which takes him to a Coast Guard cutter; its medical facilities can keep him alive. It's not too late.

"Come on, Marty," Habib says as they heft the litter back to the tug. "We're gonna get you out of here. Just hang in a little longer."

Johnson is hauled aboard the cutter, and the corpsmen establish a radio connection with their onshore surgeon. Coast Guard medics take over while Habib and his team jump onto the Makushin Bay and wait nervously for an hour. At 11 o'clock, the captain of the cutter calls Habib.

Marty Johnson is dead.

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