Swim Call on the USCGC Kimball, a Legend-class cutter, was called off early recently when a shark came over to investigate. The crew recounted the incredible event on the ship’s Facebook page.
“After completing our operations for the day, there were no vessels around for miles, the weather was perfect, and we were a zillion miles from land,” the Kimball’s crew said on Facebook on Tuesday. “We had not been off the ship for weeks, were at that point where every day feels like ‘Groundhog Day,’ and were looking for something to break up the monotony. Answer: Swim Call!”
According to the post, they had plenty of safety measures in place, including a swimmer ready to jump to the rescue and an “armed shark watch” that happened to come in handy.
“Everything was by the numbers. Everyone was having a great day. Everyone was smiling and having fun. It was perfect! And then… Bridge personnel reported ‘Shark!’ over the radio,” they wrote.
According to the crew’s judgment, it was likely either a longfin mako or pelagic thresher shark, although the latter has never been implicated in an attack on humans, according to Canada’s Reefquest Center for Shark Research.
Nonetheless, the shark watch, identified only as Maritime Enforcement Specialist First Class Cintron, “fired a well-aimed burst right at/on top of the shark to protect shipmates just feet away. It turned away for a few seconds then turned back,” the post says, noting he “fired bursts as needed to keep the shark from his shipmates with amazing accuracy. The shark would wave off with each burst but kept coming back toward our shipmates.”
Fortunately for everyone but the shark, all the crew quickly made it into some sort of boat. “All hands are safe and accounted for,” the post says. “We even saved the inflatable unicorn!”
As if that weren’t enough, the sole injury during the whole affair was a scrape to a crewman’s knee, coincidentally in the middle of a tattoo of an open shark’s mouth.
The Facebook post noted that after the incident, “swim call” was shifted to “fish call,” and that night, everyone was clamoring for the flight deck film to be either “Jaws” or “Sharknado.”
According to Military.com, a shark showing up to a Coast Guard or Navy swim call is rare, and appearances requiring such a high-caliber intervention even rarer.