time to go back upstairs to change into their boots.
As soon as Evan stepped into the standing water his feet and calves began to ache and cramp up. The freezing water felt like a million pinpricks over his skin. His heart raced as they waded through the salt water, pulled a pump from a far wall, and struggled with it back across the ramp room.
We gotta get this thing going, Evan thought as they placed the pump down by the ramp room door. It took just a minute for the two e-squad members to get the ship’s fire hose hooked up to the pump. Then Evan headed toward the stairway up to the deck, the long end of the hose looped around his arms.
Just as he was headed up the narrow metal staircase, Evan ran into Chief Engineer Dan Cook, who was coming down. Evan didn’t know Cook that well. The chief was a big man, six foot two and close to 280 pounds, with a shiny bald head and a Santa-like white beard. The fifty-eight-year-old engineer had only been on the Ranger for a couple of months, but Evan could tell he was a jokester from the few times they had talked. Now the older man was deadly serious.
He stopped Evan on the stairs. “No, go to the suits,” he said.
“What?” Evan said. He had the fire hose in his hand and wasprepared to bring it up to the deck where he’d run the end of the hose overboard.
The chief was breathing heavily and sweat was running down the sides of his bald head. “Get everybody up there, too, and get your suits on. We might have to abandon ship.”
J ULIO M ORALES JOLTED AWAKE . An alarm was going off, a loud, ringing sound like an old-fashioned telephone. He looked around the dark, eight-man bunk room. Most of the racks had men in them; only a couple of people were moving.
It must be a training drill, Julio thought. Then, he heard someone yell from lower in the boat: “The rudder room is flooding!”
Julio climbed down from the top bunk. Out in the narrow hallway, he saw one of his bosses, Evan Holmes, running toward him.
“Get ready to abandon ship!” Evan yelled.
“Are you serious?” Julio said. Evan was opening stateroom doors, yelling people’s names and shaking men awake.
“We got to get out,” he screamed. “The rudder room is full of water!”
E RIC H AYNES WAS ALSO ASLEEP in his bunk when he was startled awake by his cabinmate, Assistant Cook Mark Hagerman, knocking at the door. “Eric, I don’t know how bad it is, but we’re flooding,” Mark said. “We’re taking on water.”
Eric pulled on his sweats, grabbed his phone and wallet, and started for the wheelhouse. Captain Pete Jacobsen was up there, along with First Mate David Silveira, and Chief Dan Cook.
“What’s going on, Pete?” Eric asked.
“We’re taking on water in the rudder room,” the captain said. He looked at Eric. “We’re gonna go down. We’re gonna sink.”
What? Eric thought. What could have happened? The weather wasn’t that bad—certainly not bad enough for water to have flooded into the ship from above. They hadn’t hit anything. He hadn’t heard anything.
Captain Pete was serious, though, and there was no time to ask questions. Eric rushed back belowdecks. He had seen the Ranger ’s crew ignore the general alarm before. In his time on the ship, they’d had more than one Freon leak. The gas is deadly, but some guys had stayed asleep in their bunks right through the emergency alarm. Eric started knocking on doors, waking guys up.
“It’s a real emergency!” he yelled. “Go up to the wheelhouse!”
The phones were ringing nonstop and the general alarm was broadcasting a single, loud ring throughout the ship. Plenty of people were still slow to get moving, though. One Japanese crewman was in his bunk with the curtain closed when Eric burst into the room.
“Everybody up top!” Eric yelled. “Right now. Move. Move!” The man pulled back the curtain and looked at Eric with a sleepy smile. “Let’s go! You gotta go,” Eric urged.
But when he ran back through