Video: Helicopter Airlift in 20-Foot Seas

By MarEx 2017-01-11 12:16:22

On Saturday afternoon, an extended search and rescue mission in the Gulf of Alaska came to a close when a commercial tugboat took the Coast Guard cutter Spar under tow.

The Spar, a 225-foot buoy tender home ported in Kodiak, had responded on Thursday to a request for assistance from the fishing vessel Lady Gudny, which had lost power after running through her supply of fuel filters. Weather at the scene was reported as 20 to 22 foot seas and 40-knot winds, typical for the Gulf of Alaska in January. Despite the motion of the drifting vessel, a Coast Guard helicopter airlifted the Gudny's crew from her aft deck and carried them safely to Kodiak. 

The Spar later arrived on scene to take the drifting fishing vessel under tow, but in a surprise turnaround, the towline parted and fouled the Spar’s propellers, leaving her adrift as well. 

The cutters Douglas Munro, Hickory and Alex Haley were all dispatched to come to Spar’s aid, and cutters Sycamore and Maple were put on standby in case additional assistance was needed. The Coast Guard also requested help from the commercial towing vessel Anna-T (ex name Pacific Explorer).

On Saturday, the Anna-T arrived on scene and stablished a tow with the Spar. A second commercial tug, the Chahunta, was due on scene Saturday night to retrieve the Lady Gudny. As of Tuesday, both tugs had returned to Kodiak. 

"This case is a testament to the difficulties of operating in Alaska's extreme ocean environment," said Lt. Cmdr. Orion Bloom, chief of the 17th District Command Center. "Our response benefitted from the early notification from the fishing vessel Lady Gudny that they were experiencing fuel filter difficulties."