Two fishing vessels sink in Sitka area

The F/V Pacific Venture near Sitka last week. The Holland America's Westerdam is in the background. (Photo courtesy of Bill Foster)

The F/V Pacific Venture near Sitka last week. The Holland America’s Westerdam is in the background. (Photo courtesy of Bill Foster)

It was a busy Labor Day weekend for the Coast Guard, responding to two fishing vessels that sank in separate incidents last week.

The F/V Pacific Venture, a 58-foot wooden seiner that sank half a mile from the mouth of Indian River on Wednesday, has settled on a rock and is considered stable.

Much of the fuel on board the vessel has been removed, according to Mike Wortman, supervisor of the Marine Safety Detachment in Sitka. Contractor Global Diving led the operation, which included a 60-foot landing craft for the staging of divers and the temporary storage of recovered oil.

“They recovered about 500 gallons of oil, including diesel, hydraulic, not to mention the batteries on board,” Wortman said.

Owner William Manos hired Southeast Underwater Services from Juneau to salvage the vessel. They are expected to begin work Wednesday.

And just as Global Diving finished defueling the Pacific Venture, they were called to another sunken boat in Sitka waters.

“The Seamount and the same dive crew just took the 10-hour ride over to Kelp Bay to start working on that one,” Wortman said.

On Friday, the crew of the fishing vessel Irish discovered the 49-foot Sierra Allene jutting out of the water in Kelp Bay. Coast Guard personnel from Sector Juneau, the Cutter Maple, and Air Station Sitka examined the scene and are working with vessel’s owner. Global Diving joined the response on Saturday.

The vessel’s owner reported the Sierra Allene has approximately 600 gallons of diesel on board. As with the Pacific Venture, the cause of the sinking is under investigation.

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