As U.S. Coast Guard coasties from the Cutter Kimball were swimming in the ocean on a recent swim party, a large 8-foot-long shark was spotted from the deck above heading towards the swimmers.
Bridge personnel reported “Shark!” over the radio. The shark which appeared to be either a large thresher or mako shark was prowling within feet of the swimmers, Maritime Enforcement Specialist First Class was on board with a locked and loaded M4 carbine. Cintron began shooting warning shots to scare the shark away from his fellow coasties swimming in the water.
“As if right out of a Hollywood movie, a 6-8 foot shark (no exaggeration) surfaced at the Rescue Door and was swimming toward 30-40 people in the water about 30 feet away. Everyone on the Flight Deck had a bird’s eye view,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “A review of video shot by a crew member reveals it was likely a Long-Fin Mako or Pelagic Thresher Shark – not something to mess with!”
ME1 Cintron was standing shark watch on the flight deck of the cutter, a standard practice.
Our animal-lover Chief who wants to save every animal she finds yelled “Shoot it!”
The swimmers were evacuated from the water. Some of them went for the Jacob’s ladder on the fantail of the cutter while others swam for the open stern notch at the ship’s stern, and a large group swam for the small boat that was nearby.
“ME1 Cintron fired a well-aimed burst right at and on top of the shark to protect shipmates just feet away,” the Coast Guard said. “It turned away for a few seconds then turned back. We kept directing people out of the water while keeping a clear line of sight on the shark. ME1 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.”
The swimmers realized the immediate threat and according to the Coast Guard, swam post-haste to the exits.
“It wasn’t the panic of the 4th of July scene from JAWS, but once everyone realized what was happening, they moved with a purpose! Everyone stayed focused and worked the problem. The small boat quickly looked like a vessel overloaded with SAR survivors. Others threw heaving lines to shipmates in the water and helped them aboard via the stern notch,” the Coast Guard said. “The only injury was a small scrape OS3 Berk suffered while climbing aboard. Our hyper-vigilant HSC didn’t even deem it worth a band-aid. But where was it located you ask? On his knee….in the center of a tattoo. What tattoo you ask? An open set of shark’s teeth. Seriously, you can’t make this up! All hands are safe and accounted for. We even saved the inflatable unicorn!”
The crew aboard the Kimball has combined, hundreds of years at sea between and they claim not a single one has seen or heard of a shark actually showing up during a swim call.
“This goes to show why we prepare for any and everything. We just didn’t think it would be a swim call shark attack,” the Coast Guard said. “ME1 Cintron likely saved one or more of his shipmates from a shark attack. Many others helped, such as the entire boat crew. It was a team effort with everyone doing their part to work the problem,” the Coast Guard wrote.
The day of liberty for the crew was not over, but later in the day, the crew spent fishing, not being bait in the water.
The crew’s top requests for movies on the Flight Deck that night? The Coast Guard said the crew wanted to watch Jaws and Sharknado.
As for the shark, they believe it got away unscathed as the mission was not to shoot and kill but to chase the shark away from the swimmers.
“For those asking about the shark, we don’t think the shark was injured,” the coast guard said. “Our goal was to keep it away from shipmates, not harm it if possible. It was most likely curious and not looking for a meal. We picked our location to try and avoid such an encounter but it is their ocean after all. It later joined a few smaller buddies that showed up and they swam off together.”