An engineroom fire breaks out on the 220-foot sternwheeler cruise ship Queen of the West on the Columbia River near Maryhill, Washington. The Army Corps of Engineers hears a distress call and forwards it to the U.S. Coast Guard in Portland, Oregon. The only vessel in the area is the working tug Challenger, which halts its barge operation and hurries to the scene to assist the disabled ship to the riverbank.
During an Independence Day celebration on Chesapeake Bay, an explosion rocks a recreational powerboat, throwing its two occupants into the South River near Edgewater, Maryland. Nearby boaters notify the Coast Guard on Channel 16 (the international marine VHF distress, safety, and calling channel), and the crew of a pleasure boat quickly pulls the man and woman from the water. The drama unfolds as these holiday boaters continue to provide Coast Guard Station Annapolis with position information so a patrol boat can be dispatched to the scene.