UPDATE: F/V Western Venture has sunk

Video courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Kodiak Air Station crews


The U.S. Coast Guard says a 59-foot longliner that burned Sunday in the Bering Sea has sunk.

A Jayhawk helicopter crew Monday flew over the area where the Western Venture was last seen, about 70 miles west of Adak, according to Petty Officer Sara Mooers.

“We had good search conditions with good visibility and did not locate the vessel, so we presume it has likely sunk.

She says the Coast Guard is working with the Western Venture’s owner to determine the cause of the fire.

The fuel tanks held up to 4,300 gallons, but Mooers says they weren’t full.

The updated figure for the fuel aboard is 2,000 gallons of diesel but it is unknown if any of that was consumed by the fire.  It’s likely it was,” Mooers says.

The Western Venture fishermen were uninjured and picked up by the fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty, which responded to a Coast Guard urgent marine broadcast. The Aleutian Beauty took the fishermen to Adak.

Mooers calls the case an excellent example of a fishing crew that was prepared for disaster.

“They had their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and they used it.  They had their survival equipment and they used it, which allowed them to abandoned ship to their life raft safely and stay alive until rescuers could arrive on scene.” 

She says the burning ship was quite far out in the Bering Sea, away from any land mass, and the vessel is now likely several hundred feet below the water’s surface.

Original story:

Five crewmen who escaped their burning fishing vessel in the North Pacific have been rescued.

The 59-foot longline fishing vessel Western Venture activated its emergency location device while it was west of Adak on Sunday morning. A wife of a crew member said she heard from her husband that there had been a fire in the ship’s bow.

The Coast Guard dispatched two helicopters, a C-130 aircraft, and a cutter to the area near Adak in the Western Aleutians.

The 98-foot fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty was first on the scene on Sunday afternoon and they picked up all five Western Venture crew members who were in a life raft. No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard says the exact location of the Western Venture is currently unknown. It reportedly was still adrift, unlit, and emitting smoke. It reportedly had 4,300 gallons of fuel and other oils on board before the fire.

The Coast Guard may schedule overflights later on Monday. The vessel is not considered to be a hazard to navigation since there is little traffic in the area.

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