U.S. Coast Guard Awards
Henry G. Hemingway
Awarded on 28 September 1928
Around 6:15 PM on 14 February 1923, USCGC Snohomish, under temporary command of LCDR Henry G. Hemingway, was proceeding to the assistance of the motor ship Coolcha. She was reported ashore near Vancouver Island, BC. While en route she received an SOS call from the steamship Nika. The Snohomish changed her course and ran down the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Canadian side. About 3 AM the following day, two brilliant lights were seen on the starboard bow, closely resembling the lights of Umatilla Reef Lightship, but this proved to be lights from the Nika. Snohomish stood toward Nika and worked from the windward while determining the relative rate of drift of the two vessels. It was found that the Nika was drifting faster. It was also observed that Nika was on fire. A lifeboat was seen to pull off from Nika, and although efforts were made by Snohomish to pick up the occupants, this could not be done until later, after those on hoard Nika had been saved.
LCDR Hemingway placed Snohomish’s bow to a position within 20 feet of the starboard quarter of Nika. A heaving line was tossed to Nika, which was caught, and by this means a 3-inch line with a ring buoy in the bight was passed to the Nika. By hauling the buoy back and forth the Nika’s crew were taken aboard Snohomish. It was impracticable to remove the crew by launching a boat and rowing to the burning vessel because of the heavy sea. After all on hoard Nika had been taken off, Snohomish picked up the men who had previously pulled away in a lifeboat. During the time of this rescue work it was dark, overcast, and raining with a 76-mile gale blowing.