The Alaska Ferry Tustumena lived up to its nickname Trusty Tusty on Monday. While traveling from Sand Point to Old Harbor, the ferry helped tow a fishing vessel to safety.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker said the F/V Pacific Storm contacted the Coast Guard just after 7 a.m. reporting a broken transmission. The boat was anchored near Tugidak Island, and the Coast Guard issued a marine assist broadcast.
Alaska Marine Highway System Spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said the Tustumena was returning from its Aleutian Chain route when it picked up the broadcast and aided the vessel just before noon.
“The area that the Pacific Storm happened to be anchored was actually on the same tracking line that the Tustumena usually sails and so the vessel kept its course and was able to provide assistance and tow the vessel into a safer area, into Alitak Bay.”
As a result, Woodrow said the Tustumena is running slightly behind schedule, but is making up time as it travels from port to port and should catch up as the week progresses. He said the ferry left Kodiak this morning for Homer.
Woodrow said it isn’t unusual for a ferry to help other boats and this isn’t the first time one has done so.
“I’d say about a couple times a year a Marine Highway System vessel does respond to some sort of fishing vessel or even passenger vessel or sport vessel – a personal one – that’s in distress. We have 11 ships that are sailing the waters 24/7 and it’s not uncommon that we happen to be in an area that other boats are and we tend to be in more remote areas than other boats as well so we tend to be the only boat around that might be able to provide assistance in certain occasions.”
Woodrow said he wasn’t sure of the status on the Pacific Storm. He said his understanding was that the crew was going to try and work on the fixing the vessel or wait to receive additional assistance.
Woodrow said the captain of the Tustumena offered high praise for the ferry’s crewmembers, who were swift in preparing and assisting the vessel for a quick and safe tow.
According to Parker there were 50 knot winds at the time of the tow and seas ranging from 6-to-9 feet.