Traditionally, New England fishermen never bothered to learn how to swim. If their vessel sank in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, chances are they would die of the cold before anyone could find and rescue them. Even if a fisherman capsized close to shore, he would probably be overcome by hypothermia before he could reach land. Today, EPIRBs and insulated survival suits have increased a capsized fisherman's chances of survival.

Find and rescue the missing crew of the Titanic II

  1. Discuss how satellites help locate downed pilots and sinking fishing vessels.
  2. Assume an EPIRB signal has just been received indicating that the fishing vessel Titanic II is sinking at 43N, 68W. Its dragger net accidentally pulled up a live torpedo left over from World War II. Unfortunately, the munitions exploded before the crew could cut away all of the net. Now the vessel is taking on water fast, and the crew must abandon ship before help arrives.
  3. Locate the ship's position on your chart of the Gulf of Maine.
  4. Find out the temperature of the water at that spot from the satellite temperature sensors.
  5. Assuming your rescue ship is berthed at Portland harbor, calculate the distance to the sinking vessel.
  6. Determine how long it will take you to reach the ship if you can maintain a speed of 20 knots.
  7. Based on the survival time chart, what are the chances that the crew will still be alive in the water by the time you reach them?


  • chart of the Gulf of Maine with latitude/longitude and distance scale
  • infrared image of the Gulf of Maine