Coast Guard, good Samaritan rescue 3 in Sitka Sound after vessel sinks

A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter

Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 File Photo

JUNEAU, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and the crew of a good Samaritan fishing vessel rescued three people from a sinking fishing vessel in the Sitka Sound, Alaska, Monday.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received a report at 10:30 p.m. from the master of the 33-foot fishing vessel Leona, stating the vessel was taking on water and the bilge pumps were unable to keep up with the rate of flooding.

Sector Juneau watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed an Air Station Sitka Jayhawk helicopter crew to the scene. The Jayhawk crew lowered an emergency dewatering pump to the Leona, but the pump was also unable to keep up with the rapid flooding. As the ship continued to sink, the three crewmembers abandoned ship to the good Samaritan fishing vessel Pacific Pearl. The Pacific Pearl transported the Leona crew back to Sitka.

“Even on the nicest of days at sea, an unplanned emergency can be just over the horizon,” said Cmdr. Michael Kahle, Sector Juneau search and rescue mission coordinator. “We are thankful that the crew of the Leona was prepared for an emergency situation and grateful for the efforts of the Pacific Pearl to assist their fellow fishermen.”

At the time of the incident, the fishing vessel Leona had approximately 130 gallons of diesel fuel on board. While there are currently no reports of pollution, an Air Station Sitka helicopter with an embarked pollution responder from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Sitka will conduct an overflight to search for any indication of an oil release on the surface of the water. Coast Guard Aids-to-Navigation Team Sitka will provide a boat crew to assist.

Weather at the time was 5-foot seas and 11-mph winds.

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