U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Sinking Fishing Vessel in Gulf of Alaska

fishing vessel tow coast guard
The cutter John McCormick with the Elise Marie in tow (USCG)

Published Oct 23, 2020 6:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, a U.S. Coast Guard aircrew saved a fishing vessel that was disabled and taking on water off of Icy Bay, a fjord bordering the Gulf of Alaska about 160 nautical miles southeast of Valdez. 

The Sector Juneau Command Center received a mayday alert from the fishing vessel Elise Marie via an InReach satellite device at about 1900 hours Wednesday. The center ordered the launch of several assets to assist, including a C-130 Hercules airplane, a helicopter and the cutter John McCormick.

An Air Station Kodiak Hercules aircrew established communications with the Elise Marie while an Air Station Sitka MH-60 helicopter crew was under way to deliver a dewatering pump. The helicopter lowered down the pump to the Elise Marie at about 2100 hours, and the boat's crew was able to use it to keep up with the flooding while they waited for help. 

"When we arrived on scene, the vessel captain had already prepared his vessel for the delivery of the dewatering pump, which greatly reduced our time in a hover over his vessel and allowed for the expedient delivery of the pump," said Lt. Justin Neal, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot on the case. 

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick arrived on scene the next morning at about 1030 hours, and she towed the Elise Marie toward the port of Yakutat. The Yakutat Police Department took over the tow near shore and the vessel arrived safely in Yakutat at 2330 hours Thursday.

"This successful case highlighted the importance of mariner preparedness," said Lt. Joseph Sullivan-Springhetti, commanding officer of the cutter John McCormick. "The master has good communication equipment and survival gear onboard, which allowed us to find them quickly . . . We were also really fortunate to have the support of the Yakutat Police Department, who met us late in the evening and helped bring the vessel in to the pier safely."