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Crew Rescued as F/V EYAK Sinks Near Sitka, Alaska

A crewmember on board the 80-foot tender F/V EYAK called the Juneau Coast Guard at 5:45 am on January 19, 2015 to report they had grounded and the boat was taking on water. The tender was located near Calligan Island, about 16 miles south of Sitka Harbor. The Coast Guard flew a helicopter from Air Station Sitka and also asked for assistance from Sitka Police and Fire Departments and the Alaska State Troopers.

Sitka’s emergency response vessel (ERV), jointly operated by the fire department and police department, and a boat from the Alaska State Troopers arrived at the EYAK around 7:30 a.m. The four EYAK crewmembers wore survival suits and had inflated the life raft. Sitka Police Ryan Silva was aboard the ERV. “I’m just glad we got there when we did because it was under 45 minutes later that it (the EYAK) slipped into the water fully,” Silva said.

The crew was transferred safely to the ERV, along with their dog. All four were uninjured and did not require medical attention, according to the Trooper report.

David Castle, 48, on board the boat, is the captain and owner. Crew members are Anna Zallau, 29, Charles Wlaslewski, 23, and Debra Rose, 49, all of Port Alexander.

The Coast Guard reported that it is monitoring the EYAK wreck since it had about 500 gallons of fuel on board when it sank.

The EYAK is a flat-bottomed fish tender built in 1943 for the New England Fish Company and was one of the few fishing vessels built during World War II, according to a profile of the vessel written by Will Swagel of Sitka. It has for years served as the regular mail and supply boat for Baranof Island’s small communities, including Port Alexander.