Saturday, April 18, 2009
Five fishermen whose vessel began taking on water in Southeast Alaska early this morning have been rescued and brought to safety, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. One of the crew members sustained back injuries and was airlifted to Ketchikan for treatment, according to the Coast Guard. The crewman's condition was not immediately available. The crew of the 58-foot Seafarer, based out of Klawock, sent out a Mayday call at 12:51 a.m. as they began to abandon ship onto an 18-foot skiff, said the Coast Guard. At the time, the vessel was in Clarence Strait, about seven miles north of Thorne Bay. The Coast Guard dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Sitka as well as a 47-foot lifeboat and 25-foot response boat from Ketchikan. It also diverted the cutter Naushon to the scene.The chopper was first to arrive and found the crew safe on the skiff. It waited at the scene until just before 3 a.m., when the lifeboat reached the scene. The injured crewman was taken aboard that vessel, then lifted into the Jayhawk, which flew him to Ketchikan for emergency medical treatment, the Coast Guard said. The remaining crew members remained on their skiff and were towed to Thorne Bay by the lifeboat. According to the Coast Guard, the crew's use of an electronic locator beacon and a flashlight helped speed the rescue. "The fact that they had (the beacon) and a flashlight made locating them much easier," Lt. Cmdr. Eric Carter, Jayhawk commander, said in a prepared statement. "The (beacon) didn't give us an exact position but the use of the flashlight led us right to them using our night-vision goggles."