Merchant Ships Rescue 46 From Sinking Trawler

By MarEx 2016-07-27 21:11:26

On Tuesday, all 46 crewmembers of a sinking fishing vessel in the Bering Sea were rescued by merchant ships, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

At about 1130 hours local time off Kiska Island, about 600 nm west of Dutch Harbor, the crew of the factory trawler Alaska Juris sent a distress signal, put on survival suits and abandoned ship into life rafts, the USCG said.

The Coast Guard issued an urgent call to merchant ships in the area, and four vessels diverted from their routes to assist. 28 crewmembers were rescued from two life rafts tethered to the Juris and brought aboard the freighter Spar Canis. The container ship Vienna Express came alongside a third raft which had come adrift and rescued the remaining 18 crewmembers. Calm weather conditions aided the rescue.

As of Tuesday night the ships were under way for Adak. 

The Coast Guard sent the high endurance cutter Midgett and a Hercules HC-130 airplane to respond and assist, and dispatched two Air Station Kodiak Jayhawk helicopters to Adak.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the incident is under investigation, but Coast Guard personnel indicated that a mechanical problem in the engine room is suspected. 

In 2013, a fight aboard the Juris left one man in the hospital and three behind bars after a brawl escalated and a crewmember assaulted another with a knife. Two additional crewmembers attacked the victim when Dutch Harbor police arrived to intervene. 

The Juris’ Washington-based owner was also the operator of the Alaska Ranger, which sank in 2008 under contested circumstances, leading to the death of five crew. The NTSB concluded that the likely cause was the loss of the vessel’s rudder, with progressive flooding due to poor watertight integrity of internal bulkheads. 

A representative of the vessel’s owner said that a spokesperson would return a request for comment later.