ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two ships heard the Coast Guard’s emergency call to help a sinking fishing boat and rushed to rescue 46 crew members who had hopped into life rafts off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
There were no reports of injuries as the vessels plucked the crew from the Bering Sea on Tuesday evening, Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson said. The ships then began a 13-hour voyage to a port in Adak, Alaska.
When the 220-foot Alaska Juris started taking on water, all crew members donned survival suits and got into three rafts. An emergency beacon alerted the Coast Guard to the sinking ship.
The Spar Canis and the Vienna Express rushed to the scene in response to the agency’s emergency broadcast for help, as did two other merchant vessels.
“The good Samaritans’ willingness to respond … was paramount to getting the Alaska Juris crew to safety,” said Lt. Greg Isbell, Coast Guard District 17 command duty officer.
Video footage showed one of the bright orange life rafts floating some distance from the stricken boat, while another appeared tethered to it. The Coast Guard footage shot from an aircraft also showed a merchant ship in the distance, apparently headed toward the boat.
The agency diverted a cutter and dispatched two C-130 transport planes and two helicopters to the sinking ship near Kiska Island, which is about 690 miles west of Dutch Harbor, one of the nation’s busiest fishing ports.
It wasn’t immediately known what caused the fishing boat to begin taking on water, and that will be part of the Coast Guard investigation, Steenson said. Conditions on the Bering Sea were calm, but there was low visibility because of heavy fog.
It’s not the first trouble the Alaska Juris has encountered in recent years.
In March 2012, a fisherman aboard the boat died after a cable snapped and struck him in the head. Days later, another fisherman was treated for a head injury after a cable snapped again and hit him.
In May 2012, the Alaska Juris requested help from the Coast Guard after three crew members were exposed to ammonia from a leak. The agency flew the trio to Cold Bay, Alaska.