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Coast Guard searches for owner of houseboat drifting near Ketchikan

Devin Kelly

The Coast Guard is searching for the owner of a houseboat that was spotted drifting off an island south of Ketchikan late Tuesday.

At 10:46 p.m., the Ketchikan Police Department received a call that a 40-foot houseboat barge was floating off Pennock Island in Tongass Narrows, about a quarter-mile south of Ketchikan. The lights were on, and no one was onboard except for a dog, said deputy police chief Josh Dossett.

A windstorm had barreled into the region, and the boat could not immediately be boarded, Dossett said. The houseboat, Diver III, had dropped anchor but had drifted close to a breakwall, he said.

Just before 3 a.m., the Coast Guard team boarded the boat and determined the vessel had recently been occupied -- in addition to the dog, hot coals were in the wood stove and a skiff was tied to the boat, said Coast Guard Petty Office 3rd Class Grant DuVuyst.

At that point, the Coast Guard began searching for a person in the water, DuVuyst said. At sunrise, an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew joined the search.

According to registration numbers, the boat is owned by John Anderson, DuVuyst said.

Dossett said Anderson, of Ketchikan, has not been formally reported missing, but "nobody can figure out where he's at."

"He should be on the boat, his boat floated free. ... But we don't know," Dossett said.

He said the dog was removed from the boat and is in the care of friends of Anderson's.

By Devin Kelly
Anchorage Daily News