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9 photos that show how the Coast Guard fights fires at sea

Fire trucks can't reach too far past the coast, and plenty of fires break out on ships and oil platforms off American shores. When the fires happen in America's territorial waters, it often falls to America's Coast Guard to rescue the survivors and fight the flames.


Here are nine photos of the Coast Guard protecting lives and property by acting as firefighters at sea:

1. The Coast Guard fights fires in their areas of operations. Everything from small boats like this one ...

Fishing vessel Bigger Dirls on fire in Hopkins Point Marina in Jonesport, Maine on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2016. No one was aboard at the time. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat)

2. ...to huge fires like the one that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon.

Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon. A Coast Guard MH-65C dolphin rescue helicopter and crew documented the fire while searching for survivors. Multiple Coast Guard helicopters, planes, and cutters responded to rescue the Deepwater Horizon's 126-person crew. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

3. For smaller fires, it's often enough to pump water onto them, and the Coast Guard is lucky that plenty of salt water is usually available.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Langston fights the boat fire from the Coast Guard 29-foot response boat in Hopkins Point Marina in Jonesport, Maine on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016. The was no one aboard at the time of the fire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Horvat)

4. What's unlucky is that it will often take Coast Guardsmen time to reach the crisis, and it's their job to rescue survivors. For instance, they pulled four fishermen and a dog from this ship after it exploded.

U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued four fisherman Thursday after their vessel caught fire and exploded near St. Simons Island Sound. A Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat—Medium crew from Station Brunswick located and rescued the crew and their dog from the 58-foot fishing vessel Predator. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard Station Brunswick video)

5. Rescue operations are relatively simple for small vessels, but it takes a lot of planning to be able to rescue people from large ferries, cruise vessels, or industrial ships.

A Coast Guard Station San Juan crewmember monitors passengers using the marine escape system from the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Coast Guard received initial notification around 7:40 a.m. that the ferry was on fire. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

6. Sometimes, the Coast Guard asks for help from nearby, civilian vessels that are commonly known as "good Samaritans." These vessels assist with rescue, firefighting, and recovery operations.

A local San Juan, Puerto Rico-based tug crew use a fire hose to cool the hull of the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel that caught fire earlier a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Caribbean Fantasy's engine room caught fire, which began to spread to other compartments forcing passengers and crew to abandon the ferry vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.)

7. Good Samaritan vehicles can even assist with larger operations, like the extinguishing of this oil platform fire.

Four offshore supply vessels extinguish a fire on an oil production platform fire near Grand Isle, Louisiana, Jan. 5, 2017. There were four people aboard the platform who evacuated into the water and were recovered by the offshore supply vessel Mary Wyatt Milano. There were no reported injuries. (Coast Guard imagery courtesy of Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile)

8. The Coast Guard still maintains oversight and supervises the efforts.

More imagery from the fire on an oil production platform fire near Grand Isle, Louisiana, Jan. 5, 2017. (Coast Guard imagery courtesy of Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile)

9. When the fire is near other ships or structures, the Coast Guard takes steps to control the burning vessel, preventing it from drifting and catching other vessels on fire.

A Coast Guard Auxiliary crewmember maintains positive control of a flame-engulfed pleasure craft near Great Neck Creek in Copiague, New York, April 30, 2016. The Copiague Fire Department assisted the Coast Guard Auxiliary crew and extinguished the fire onboard the vessel. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo)