Eight people rescued after separate sinkings

Updated story August 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm

A 71-foot tender that sank southwest of Petersburg early Wednesday morning has leaked some fuel.

During a helicopter flyover later that day, the Coast Guard spotted an oily sheen near the mouth of Duncan Canal. That’s where the Pacific Queen sank.

State officials monitoring the situation say a small amount of diesel escaped from the vessel. But they say fuel vents were secured before it sank, limiting the potential for a larger spill.

The Coast Guard says the Pacific Queen had the capacity to carry 3,000 gallons of diesel. But the skipper told officials the tanks held only 1,000 gallons.

A Department of Environmental Conservation situation report says the tender hit a rock before sinking. The skipper and two crewmembers were picked up by another fishing boat and taken to Petersburg.

An oil spill response vessel from Juneau is on the scene. DEC says it’s carrying 2,500 feet of containment boom, plus oil-skimming equipment.

The ship sank near Lung Island, about two miles east of Kah Sheets Bay, recognized as a sensitive environmental area. Officials say they’re planning for a possible larger spill.

The Coast Guard said the tender sunk in 40 fathoms of water. But state officials say the depth is unknown.

The state lists Joseph Lykken of Wrangell as the Pacific Queen’s owner. It was tendering for SeaLevel Seafoods, based in Wrangell. The company won’t comment on the sinking.



Updated story August 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

A world-famous crabber rescued five people from a sinking seiner near Prince of Wales Island early Wednesday morning.

The Homer-based fishing vessel Time Bandit is known for its role in the “Deadliest Catch” reality TV series, which focuses on Bering Sea fisheries.

But right now, it’s in southern Southeast fishing for salmon, according to the vessel’s Facebook page.

The Time Bandit was near Dall Island, on the outer coast of southern Prince of Wales island, about 4:30 this morning. That’s when the 56-foot seiner Coral Sea ran aground.

It picked up the skipper and four crewmembers, who had gotten into a life raft.

At last report, the Coral Sea was partially underwater.

In a separate incident, the Pacific Queen sunk around midnight Tuesday near Lung Island, southwest of Petersburg and west of Wrangell.

Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Klingenberg says the 75-foot tender’s crew asked for help after it began taking on water.

That vessel is sunk in about 40 fathoms of water. The cause of the sinking is still under investigation.”

He says the skipper and crewmembers abandoned ship and escaped in a life raft.

The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Sitka. But the three on board were picked by the fishing vessel Windham Bay and taken into Petersburg.

This crew that was forced to abandon ship, they were prepared for a worse case scenario. They had a life raft that they could get on to, and they had an EPIRB which allowed them to be located in a timely manner.”

Klingenberg says the Pacific Queen had about 1,000 gallons of diesel on board. The Coral Sea had about 500.

He says the Coast Guard will monitor both sinkings for fuel leaks. So far, no sheen has been spotted.



Updated story August 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm

A Coast Guard H-60 helicopter is flying over the sites of two sinkings on Wednesday to check for any pollution.

The 75-foot tender Pacific Queen, homeported out of Wrangell, took on water and sank near Lung Island south of Petersburg early Wednesday morning. A thousand gallons of fuel were reported on board.

Later, the 56-foot seiner Coral Sea ran aground and was partially submerged off Gourd Island. That’s a small island off Dall Island in southern Southeast Alaska. Five-hundred gallons of fuel was reported on board. The Coast Guard says the Coral Sea is owned by a Sitka fisherman.

The Pacific Queen’s three crew were picked up by the fishing vessel Windham Bay while the Coral Sea’s five crew were picked by the fishing vessel Time Bandit.

Coast Guard Lieutenant Bernard Auth says the Time Bandit is the same one frequently seen on the ‘Deadliest Catch’ television show, though likely with an alternative crew.

No injuries reported among any of the eight rescued crewmembers.


View Sinkings in a larger map

Original story August 14, 2013 at 6:42 am

The Coast Guard reports that a total of eight people are safe with no reported injuries after two separate sinkings on Wednesday morning.

The first incident started just before midnight Tuesday night near Lung Island south of Petersburg when the 75-foot tender Pacific Queen reported that they were taking on water.

Three people on board donned survival suits and abandoned ship into a life raft. They were picked by another fishing vessel, the Windham Bay, and they were last reported headed into Petersburg.

The Coast Guard had dispatched an H-60 helicopter from Sitka to help with possible evacuation of the Pacific Queen’s crew.

It’s unclear what exactly happened aboard the Pacific Queen. Crew initially reported water coming into the engine room.

Coast Guard search and rescue controller Vince Grochowski says they have not had a chance to debrief the crew yet.

Approximately a thousand gallons of fuel was reported on board the Pacific Queen.

The second incident happened about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday when the 56-foot seiner Coral Sea ran aground on Gourd Island which is on the outside shore of Dall Island in southern southeast Alaska. Five people on that vessel abandoned ship into a life raft and were picked up by another nearby fishing vessel, the Time Bandit.

The Coral Sea is reportedly only partially sunk, possibly on its side.

About 500 gallons of fuel reported on board the Coral Sea.

It’s not immediately clear where both the Pacific Queen and Coral Sea are homeported.

The Coast Guard says they’ll be monitoring both sinkings on Wednesday for any possible pollution.

Matt Miller

Morning Host & Local News Reporter, KTOO

I’m up early every weekday morning pulling together all the news and information you need to start your day. I find the stories unique to Juneau or Southeast Alaska that may linger or become food-for-thought at the end of your day. What information do you need from me to give your day some context?

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