As the F/V KUPREANOF sank in stormy seas on June 10 near Lituya Bay in Southeast Alaska, a Sitka Coast Guard helicopter crew plucked the ship’s four crewmembers out of the water and flew them to the safety of Sitka emergency services.
That morning, the captain of the 73-foot F/V KUPREANOF called in a MAYDAY to the Coast Guard stating that the boat was taking on water and sinking. He had ordered his crew to don their immersion suits and ready the life raft. He was worried about one of his older crewmembers who couldn’t swim. Weather conditions were 7-foot high waves and 10-mph winds.
The Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter arrived at the vessel just as the crewmembers were abandoning ship and swimming to the life raft. The rescue team hoisted each crewmember out of the water and then flew back to the Sitka Medical Center. All four men were reported in good condition.
Lt. Ben Neal, a pilot at Coast Guard Air Sitka said, “The crew of the KUPREANOF did the right thing by calling for help, putting on their immersion suits and safely abandoning the ship. Emergencies can occur at any time and having the right safety equipment is critical when operating in Alaska’s extreme environment.”
The Coast Guard will investigate the cause of the vessel sinking. Scott Giard, the command duty officer of the Juneau Sector said, “As of Oct. 15, 2015, commercial fishing vessel safety exams will be mandatory for vessels operating beyond three nautical miles offshore. This case is a perfect example of why exams are crucial for the safety of fishermen.”
To see a Coast Guard video of part of the rescue, watch: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/408810/coast-guard-rescues-4-sinking-vessel