One fisherman dies, three rescued off Alaska coast

Updated 7 a.m. The Coast Guard pulled four fishermen from the frigid Alaska waters after the Seattle-based boat Northern Belle sank on Tuesday evening. Three were suffering from hypothermia, and the fourth was unresponsive and receiving CPR treatment, the Coast Guard said last night. Medics were unable to revive the crewman, who had sustained a head injury while existing the boat, reports the Anchorage newspaper this morning.

A spokesperson said the Coast Guard received a mayday call at 5:30 p.m. that the crew of three men and a woman were abandoning the sinking 75-foot ship. “We have four people on board,” said a crewmember on the call. “We are getting in the life raft. We are going down!” (Listen to the mayday call in two audio clips linked from this Coast Guard page.)

A rescue helicopter and HC-130 aircraft, along with a Coast Guard cutter, were dispatched to the scene, 50 miles south of Montague Island (see map). A spokesperson says the crew, wearing survival suits, was pulled from the water at 8 p.m. They were transported to medical personnel in Cordova, Alaska. The three surviving crew are doing well, a hospital spokesperson said.

The Northern Belle is based at Fishermen’s Terminal. You can see a photo of what appears to be the same boat at the terminal here. We’ll update you as we receive new information.

(U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer Sara Francis. More here.)

8 comments on “One fisherman dies, three rescued off Alaska coast”

  1. thank you for the update – and the photo, which makes it all the more real. I hope they all recover.

  2. Coast Guard protocol blocks Coast Guard from perceiving urgency? Or am I naive? There even seemed to be another radio chiming in the persons aboard – with urgency in his voice. Listen. No matter, my thoughts are with the families involved, and my best wishes to the recovering men.

  3. Upon further readings, the USCG did have a helicopter dispatched within 10 minutes of the call. I am naive….

  4. Apparently the captain is the only fatality… RIP

    One of the survivors families in a TV interview talked about the fact that boat had something loaded on it that they considered too heavy, and they where concerned about the safety of the vessel. I've been going to sea for almost 20years now (luckily not as a fisherman) and history is full of stories like this where the crew had feelings that things where unsafe but set sail anyway…

  5. I listened to the call, and it sounds like it was done to procedure. The duty radio operator pushes a (figurative) big red button to launch the rescue response, then tries to get as much information as possible to help the rescuers. When the boat radio went dead, the operator was trying to get info on the length and color of the boat, which really helps the helicopter crew find an object in thousands of square miles of ocean. In this case, the crew got the boat's location out to the USCG, so the search radius is way, way smaller.

    I think the operators are also trained to keep a calm voice, so that it's easier to understand them and get information across. (And I don't think you're naive at all).

  6. My brother died in a sailing accident 30 years ago, but the CG helicopter saved the other two who'd been aboard from exposure. They were there within minutes, after a call was made to police by a man seeing something through coin-op spyglass.

    Thank you Coast Guard, for making valiant efforts each day.

Login or register (optional)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *