Coast Guard responds to grounding of Homer fishing vessel, Seward charter vessel reporting fire in engine room

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard responded to two separate distress calls after receiving one from a crewmember from the Homer-based 58-foot fishing vessel Polar Star reporting they were taking on water 65-miles west of Kodiak and another from a crewmember aboard the Seward-based 38-foot charter vessel Aurora reporting smoke in their engine room 10 miles southeast of Seward Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage received to a mayday call from the captain of the 58-foot fishing vessel Polar Star reporting the vessel was taking on water and the crew of five were about to abandon ship on the southern side of the Alaskan Peninsula 65-miles west of Kodiak at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday.

The Sector Anchorage command center received the mayday call over VHF radio and immediately diverted the crews of a Kodiak-based C-130 Hercules aircraft and MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter after their assistance was no longer needed by the crew of the Aurora. The Coast Guard aircraft arrived on scene at 11:20 a.m. and found the crew of the Polar Star in a skiff nearby their grounded vessel.

The Hercules and Jayhawk aircrews departed the scene after their assistance was no longer requested. The Coast Guard will maintain communications with the crew of the Polar Star with the assistance of the good Samaritan fishing vessel Jamborea.

The crew of the Polar Star reported they will wait until high tide at 9:17 p.m. to attempt refloating their vessel.

The cause of the grounding is not known and there were no injuries reported.

The Polar Star is a seiner fishing vessel and can carry up to 4,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board. No pollution has been reported.

Weather conditions at the time of the grounding were winds from the southwest at 23 mph, Three-foot seas and visibility of five miles.

Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak will be investigating the incident.

The aircrew also responded to a separate incident that involved a report of smoke in the engine room on board the Aurora with 10 passengers and two crewmembers aboard 10 miles off of Montague Island southeast of Seward Tuesday morning.

The Sector Anchorage command center received the call for assistance over VHF radio from a crewmember aboard the Aurora at 9:08 a.m. reporting there was a fire in the engine room.

The crewmembers transferred the 10 passengers aboard the Aurora on to the charter vessel Emerald Fjord, which responded to he Aurora’s call for assistance. After the passengers were transferred the two crewmembers reported smoke in the engine room. The crew is scheduled to arrive in Seward at 5 p.m.

The cause of the smoke is unknown and no injuries were reported.

Sector Anchorage is investigating the incident.

The two aircraft flew a total of 1,000 miles during the distress calls.

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