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Coast Guard, good Samaritan help vessel in distress near Fairweather Ground

Posted: January 30, 2013 - 10:55pm

JUNEAU — U.S. Coast Guard crews and a good Samaritan vessel from Sitka rushed to aid the Sitka-based crew of a 70-foot fishing vessel taking on water approximately five miles west of Fairweather Ground Wednesday.

An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew brought dewatering pumps to four people aboard the fishing vessel Masonic.

The Coast Guard Cutter Liberty was en route Wednesday hoping to meet the vessel by Thursday morning in Cross Sound to help it make it to port in Hoonah.

The weather on scene at the time of the incident was reportedly 11-foot seas and 25 mph gusting 35 mph. The reported windchill was 26 degrees, according to the Coast Guard.

The Masonic’s crew alerted the Coast Guard Wednesday that the vessel was taking on water and may require an extra pump to keep up with flooding. An Air Station Sitka helicopter crew and the Liberty responded.

The good Samaritan vessel Myra arrived and helped the Masonic’s crew until the vessel was able to control the flooding and pump out water.

The helicopter crew brought two more dewatering pumps and a rescue swimmer to assist in dewatering efforts.

The helicopter remained on scene until the flooding was under control before retrieving the rescue swimmer and returning to Sitka. The Myra continued on its voyage while the Masonic headed for protected waters in Cross Sound to find the flooding source.

“In these dangerous waters, preparedness and early actions from the crew and nearby good Samaritan vessels play a key role in ensuring the safety of the Alaskan boating community,” said Lt. Ryan Erickson of Sector Juneau. “Due to the vast areas our Coast Guard crews are required to cover, it is vital that all mariners ensure their vessels are inspected and properly outfitted before setting sail.”

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