Air Station Kodiak rescues 11 from 2 fishing vessels

17th Coast Guard District NewsJUNEAU, Alaska — Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews rescued 11 fishermen from two different vessels near Kodiak Wednesday morning.

Communication Station Kodiak watchstanders received a call from the 58-foot fishing vessel Kimberly, homeported in Juneau, stating the vessel had run aground in Portage Bay and needed assistance at about 8 p.m. Tuesday.

An Air Station Kodiak Jayhawk crew launched at about 9:30 p.m. and arrived on scene within an hour. Foul weather, including sustained 60-knot winds with gusts up to 90 knots and 16-foot seas, prevented the aircrew from rescuing the personnel at that time. The Jayhawk crew returned to Kodiak to refuel and a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules airplane crew and a second Jayhawk crew were launched to assist the crew of the Kimberly.

As aircrews were returning to assist the Kimberly, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a mayday call at 6:30 a.m. from the fishing vessel Heritage south of Kodiak with seven people aboard. The second Jayhawk crew was redirected to assist the 68-foot Heritage. Air Station Kodiak launched a third helicopter crew to assist the Kimberly.

The third helicopter crew arrived at the Kimberly’s location, safely hoisted all four crewmembers and arrived at Air Station Kodiak at 10:30 a.m.

The second Jayhawk crew continued to the Heritage’s location, arriving at approximately 7 a.m., and began rescuing survivors. Two crewmembers were safely hoisted from the water and the crew from the good Samaritan vessel crew, the fishing vessel Tuxedni, rescued the other five crewmembers from a life raft at 7:40 a.m.

The second Jayhawk crew returned to Kodiak with the two rescued Heritage crewmembers at 9 a.m. and the Tuxedni took the passengers to Lazy Bay. The Tuxedni crew and five survivors are expected to arrive to Kodiak at 1 p.m. Thursday.

The crews of both vessels were wearing survival suits and are reported to be in good or fair condition.

“It’s very important for fishing vessels to take survival gear with them when they go out,” said Petty officer 2nd Class Jose Varela-Santos, a flight corpsman with Air Station Kodiak. “The waters in Alaska are dangerous and treacherous and can kill you quickly. Thankfully, these crews had gear and were able to put it on in time.”

Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak personnel are investigating the cause of the Kimberly grounding and the Heritage sinking.

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