Several good Samaritan vessels came to the aid of 46 crewmembers from a factory trawler that started taking on water Wednesday in the Bering Sea near the island of Kiska. The Alaska Juris crew donned survival suits and abandoned ship when water started filling the engine room that could not be stopped. There are no reports of injuries.
Of those on board, the Coast Guard reports 28 were recovered from two life rafts by the Norwegian-flagged bulk cargo carrier Spar Canis. The survivors had secured the two rafts to the Alaska Juris to keep from drifting, while the third life raft could not secure a line and drifted away. The 18 occupants of the third raft were picked up by the German-flagged container ship Vienna Express. The Seafisher and Ocean Peace also diverted to assist.
Coast Guard 17th District watchstanders received an EPIRB (EE-perb) alert from the 238-foot long, 611-ton, Alaska Juris around 11:30 Tuesday morning and contacted the crew directly to confirm they were in distress, and learned they were donning survival suits and abandoning ship.
Watchstanders then issued an urgent marine information broadcast to vessels in the area and sent the Cutter Midget and an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules to the vessel’s location. Two Jayhawk helicopters were also launched, but called back when the need for emergency medevac hoists had passed, according to Petty Officer Lauren Steenson in Kodiak.
Lt. Greg Isbell, District 17 command duty officer, said the crew of the Alaska Juris did the right thing by calling for help, putting on their immersion suits and safely abandoning the ship.
The cause of the vessel taking on water is under investigation, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is also keeping an eye out for pollution. Seas were calm at the time of the incident, though visibility was limited due to fog and mist.