In the early hours of 12 February 1997 a 44′ motor lifeboat from U.S. Coast Guard Station Quillayute River, Washington responded to a mayday call from the sailing vessel GALE RUNNER. In the rescue attempt, three of the lifeboat’s four crew members were killed: BM2 David Bosley, MK3 Matthew Schlimme, and SN Clinton Miniken. The crew of the GALE RUNNER was hoisted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter, and the motor lifeboat, CG 44363, was a complete loss.
In the aftermath of 12 February 1997, investigations focused heavily on BM2 David Bosley’s actions, with some attention towards the way Coast Guard stations ran and were supported. This emphasis was understandable, but left out important perspectives about what happened and how we as humans, make meaning from the events.
Integrative analysis teaches us that a subject should be looked at through four main lenses to be fully understood: individual interior (personal experiences), group interior (relationships, culture), individual exterior (behavior, facts), and group exterior (systems, organizations). This virtual museum was built to share all of these important pieces out of the deepest respect for everyone involved.
The events of this story have not yet outlived their relevance; this record must continue to be shared. Using holistic analysis, we aim to present material that honors all perspectives in a way that anyone can access and understand.
In the individual interiors, we present the views of each person involved so that we can feel for ourselves, and glimpse their unique experience of what happened.
The facts of the individual exteriors matter, so this place is also dedicated to sharing the details of those events and their aftermath.
Even the Coast Guard found that systemic failures contributed to the night’s outcomes. We must use the group exterior perspective to examine possible organizational causes, lessons, and future changes.
The group interior shows us about community and culture: leading up to this mishap, in learning, and in healing.
While the content and the human impacts detailed here may be difficult to experience, they are nonetheless necessary to truly appreciate and learn from the tragic events. Much has already been documented and published on this matter and this museum serves as an aggregate of the resources already available. The material here is presented with the deepest sensitivity towards all parties.
In previous disasters, telling the story and gathering to remember, learn from, and process the events has been incredibly healing. In the United States, an annual memorial and book commemorate the 1961 loss of the 52′ U.S. Coast Guard motor lifeboat TRIUMPH on the Columbia River Bar. The memorial alone has connected shipmates and kindled healing dialogues.
In the United Kingdom, similar literature and documentation exists regarding the 1981 loss of the 47′ Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboat SOLOMON BROWNE. By taking these accounts out of the dark, we honor the sacrifices of those involved and work towards a safer future.
Lastly, the information contained on this site is as factually based as possible, however; some discrepancies may be found between sources and testimonies. And while much of the content comes directly from the U.S. Coast Guard, this is not an official U.S. Government website, so any opinions expressed belong solely to the site’s authors. Please feel free to contact the curators here.
U.S. Coast Guard photos