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Rescues at sea, and how to make a fortune

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At around 1 a.m. on the morning of November 15, 1994, Captain Prentice "Skip" Strong III woke to a distress call. Skip was the new captain of an oil tanker called the Cherry Valley. He and his crew had been making their way up the coast of Florida that evening when a tropical storm had descended. It had been a rough night of 15 foot waves and 50 mile per hour winds.
The distress call was coming from a tugboat whose engines were failing in the storm. Now adrift, the tugboat was on a dangerous collision course with the shore. The only ship close enough to mount a rescue was the Cherry Valley.
Skip faced a difficult decision. A fully loaded, 688-foot oil tanker is hardly anyone's first choice of a rescue vessel. It is as maneuverable as a school bus on ice. And the Cherry Valley was carrying ten million gallons of heavy fuel oil. A rescue attempt would put them in dangerously shallow water. One wrong move, and they would have an ecological disaster on the order of the Exxon Valdez.
What happened next that night would be dissected and debated for years to come. The actions of Skip and his crew would lead to a surprising discovery, a record-setting lawsuit, and one of the strangest legal battles in maritime history. At the center of it all, an impossible question: How do you put a price tag on doing the right thing?

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in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
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1189 episoade

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Rescues at sea, and how to make a fortune

Planet Money

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Manage episode 397789062 series 1324387
Content provided by NPR. All podcast content including episodes, graphics, and podcast descriptions are uploaded and provided directly by NPR or their podcast platform partner. If you believe someone is using your copyrighted work without your permission, you can follow the process outlined here https://ro.player.fm/legal.
At around 1 a.m. on the morning of November 15, 1994, Captain Prentice "Skip" Strong III woke to a distress call. Skip was the new captain of an oil tanker called the Cherry Valley. He and his crew had been making their way up the coast of Florida that evening when a tropical storm had descended. It had been a rough night of 15 foot waves and 50 mile per hour winds.
The distress call was coming from a tugboat whose engines were failing in the storm. Now adrift, the tugboat was on a dangerous collision course with the shore. The only ship close enough to mount a rescue was the Cherry Valley.
Skip faced a difficult decision. A fully loaded, 688-foot oil tanker is hardly anyone's first choice of a rescue vessel. It is as maneuverable as a school bus on ice. And the Cherry Valley was carrying ten million gallons of heavy fuel oil. A rescue attempt would put them in dangerously shallow water. One wrong move, and they would have an ecological disaster on the order of the Exxon Valdez.
What happened next that night would be dissected and debated for years to come. The actions of Skip and his crew would lead to a surprising discovery, a record-setting lawsuit, and one of the strangest legal battles in maritime history. At the center of it all, an impossible question: How do you put a price tag on doing the right thing?

Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+
in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.
Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices
NPR Privacy Policy
  continue reading

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