Cargo vessels seek shelter from storm in the Bering Sea

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Western Alaska has granted storm avoidance requests for five foreign cargo vessels experiencing 27-31 foot waves, winds of more than 55 mph with reported gusts up to 100 mph, while transiting along the great circle route north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands Tuesday.

The five vessels ranging from 500 to over 1,000 feet in length have sought shelter from a storm moving through Alaska’s Aleutian Islands which include two vessels sheltering off Attu, two off Atka and one off Adak. The Coast Guard received the first storm avoidance request on Friday and the others over the weekend.

“Every winter we have several significant storms in the North Pacific and the Bering Sea resulting in numerous vessels seeking shelter in the lee of the Aleutians,” said Capt. Adam Shaw, chief of prevention for the 17th Coast Guard District. “Having five vessels seek shelter at the same time is unusual. However, it is not unusual for the Coast Guard to grant storm avoidance requests as part of our ongoing mission to ensure safety of life at sea.”

Including these five, the Coast Guard has granted 10 storm avoidance requests since October.

Vessels are required to contact the Coast Guard requesting permission to avoid severe weather in U.S. waters. Upon granting a request, the Coast Guard will direct vessels to safer locations and maintain scheduled communications. The vessels can remain in storm avoidance until the weather abates or the vessel master determines it is safe to continue the voyage.

The National Weather Service is forecasting that the weather will be decreasing over the next 36 hour with winds diminishing to 20 mph and seas lowering to 20-25 feet as the storm moves east towards mainland Alaska.

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