Sitka Mountain Rescue and Coast Guard respond to sinking fishing vessel in Sitka Sound

KODIAK, Alaska – Sitka Mountain Rescue with Coast Guard assistance rescued a man from a sinking fishing vessel in Sitka Sound late Monday.

The Coast Guard and Sitka Mountain Rescue personnel heard a distress call on VHF-FM channel 16 from a man aboard the 44-foot Wrangell-based trawler Zimovia about 11:10 p.m. The 74-year-old master stated his vessel was taking on water off Kulichkof Rock.

A Sitka Mountain Rescue boat crew aboard a 19-foot fiberglass skiff and a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk crew launched at 11:40 p.m. to respond. The helicopter crew located the Zimovia and guided SMR to the scene. SMR personnel arrived at 11:57 p.m. and managed to recover the man moments before the Zimovia sank.

“This was a tough situation with the vessel unstable on the rocks being tossed about and we had to put our boat into the surf to get the master aboard our boat,” said Don Kluting, director Sitka Mountain Rescue, “We really appreciate our relationship and communication with the Coast Guard as a whole. It made it much easier for us knowing that H-60 crew was there if we ran into any trouble.”

Once aboard the SMR vessel the man was treated for cold weather exposure and taken to Sitka Community Hospital.

The Zimovia sank about 12:16 a.m. near a buoy in the sound. Personnel from Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan and Aids to Navigation Team Ketchikan were underway at first light to look for pollution and ensure the buoy near where the vessel sank is watching properly. The sunken vessel is not a hazard to navigation.

It is unknown at this time how much diesel fuel is on board the vessel, the vessel’s maximum tank capacity is 1,400 gallons. Weather conditions were clear with light winds and calm seas.

MSD personnel are investigating the sinking.

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