Two crewman from the sunken 75-foot Seattle-based Northern Belle huddle together in anti-exposure suits aboard debris from the vessel 50 miles south of Montague Island in the Gulf of Alaska April 20, 2010. Coast Guard aircrews aboard an HC-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Kodiak as well as the crew of the Valdez-based Coast Guard Cutter Long Island responded to the Northern Belle’s mayday call.U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Sara Francis.
UPDATE – The deceased man has been identified as the boat’s skipper, Rob Royer.
One fisherman is dead and three are safe after their fishing boat sank in the Gulf of Alaska yesterday (Tuesday) evening. The 75-foot Northern Belle went down about 50 miles south of Montague Island, or 235 miles northeast of Kodiak. The Seattle-based Northern Belle was bound for a cannery in Dillingham with supplies for the upcoming fishing seasons.
The deceased man has not been identified, pending notification of the next-of-kin. He had reportedly suffered head injuries while abandoning ship, and was dead when Coast Guard rescuers arrived about two hours later. A doctor at Cordova Community Medical Center said it was unclear if the man died from the injuries or from hypothermia. The three crewmembers that survived, two men and one woman, suffered from hypothermia, but were reported in stable condition late last night. All were wearing survival suits.
A mayday call was received by Communications Station Kodiak about 5:30 yesterday evening.
The unidentified man told the ComSta radio operator that there were four on board and they were abandoning ship.
An HC-130 Hercules and an MH-60 Jayhawk were launched from Air Station Kodiak, according to Coast Guard spokesman David Mosley. The cutter Long Island, which was about 40 miles northwest of the spot where the Northern Belle went down, was also diverted to the scene. The Hercules found the crew in the water almost two hours later, clinging to debris, and dropped a life raft to them. The helicopter arrived around 8 p.m. and had all four crew members hoisted aboard within 40 minutes. They delivered them to Cordova just past nine.
The cause of the sudden sinking is unknown and will be investigated. Weather conditions were reasonably calm for the Gulf of Alaska, with winds of 10 miles per hour and seas of three- to five-feet.