Forty-six people abandoned a sinking fishing vessel Tuesday shortly before noon and were rescued by merchant ships that responded to a U.S. Coast Guard emergency broadcast, an official said.
The 229-foot trawler Alaska Juris was taking on water Tuesday evening in the Bering Sea, said Lt. Joseph Schlosser of the Coast Guard District 17 command center in Juneau. The boat's occupants, all 46, were equipped with survival suits and abandoned ship in three life rafts, he said.
Alaska Juris was dead in the water more than 150 miles northwest of Adak, the official said.
Two of the life rafts were successfully secured to the sinking vessel, an effort meant to keep them from drifting, Schlosser said. A third raft with 18 occupants was not able to get secured or the line broke, he said.
An Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew approaches the fishing vessel Alaska Juris to conduct a medevac of a fisherman from the vessel June 21, 2013, less than 100 miles southeast of Dutch Harbor. On Tuesday, July 26, 2016, the Alaska Juris was dead in the water more than 150 miles northwest of Adak. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Kodiak)
The merchant vessel Spar Canis responded to the scene of the troubled ship and is recovering 28 people from two rafts, according to Schlosser.
"The life raft that went adrift, all 18 members in that raft, have been successfully recovered by a Good Samaritan vessel by the name of Vienna Express," he said.
All crew members were aboard the two ships as of 8:20 p.m. and on their way to Adak, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Lauren Steenson. It is unknown if the Alaska Juris is fully submerged. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in Adak told the Coast Guard it would monitor the vessel, Steenson said. Weather on scene was reported as calm seas and limited visibility, according to the Coast Guard.
There were no reports of injuries. Two Coast Guard helicopters flew toward the sinking ship Tuesday evening to assist if there is a medical emergency. A C-130 Hercules airplane reached the rescue area about an hour and a half after the first distress signal at 11:30 a.m., and flew overhead till it began to run out of fuel. Another plane was launched and monitored the rescue, officials said.
Preliminary information suggests mechanical problems in the ship's engine room led to the sinking, Schlosser said.
Public records show the vessel was owned by the late Karena Adler, who also owned the Fishing Co. of Alaska of Renton, Washington, before she died in January. The company's Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea in 2008 with the loss of five lives, including its captain. The Coast Guard concluded in 2011 that Adler's company failed to properly maintain the Ranger.
Also in 2011, a crew member on the Alaska Juris was killed at sea when he was struck by a snapped cable.