Coast Guard responds to grounded passenger vessel near Robert Island

KODIAK, Alaska – Crews from the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty and Air Station Sitka are responding to the grounding of a 75-foot uninspected passenger vessel after it reportedly struck a rock while nine passengers and four crewmembers were humpback whale watching near Port Houghton west of Robert Island Tuesday afternoon.

The motor vessel Catalyst ran aground on Robert Island, a small island about 68 miles south of Juneau. The vessel’s crew transported the passengers and other crewmembers to Robert Island in a skiff.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received notification of the grounding from the Catalyst’s captain about 11:15 a.m. The captain reported the vessel had approximately 1,600 gallons of diesel on board and there were no signs of pollution or visual damage.

Coast Guard Cutter Liberty crew was diverted to the scene and arrived about 3:15 p.m. and a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew is scheduled to conduct an overflight later this afternoon to assess the situation.

The Catalyst’s captain is currently aboard the vessel and reports the vessel has listed 20 degrees to the starboard side and intends to wait for high tide to refloat the vessel. High tide is expected around 6:30 p.m.

The Coast Guard will investigate the cause of the incident. No injuries were reported.

The Catalyst is homeported out of Friday Harbor, Wash.

The Cutter Liberty is a 110-foot multi-mission patrol boat homeported in Auke Bay and operates in the waters around Southeast Alaska.

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