Alaska News

Recovery plan underway for fishing vessel abandoned by crew of 46

A salvage crew is headed toward the last known location of a fishing vessel abandoned by its crew of 46 in the Bering Sea when it began taking on water Tuesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lt. Joseph Schlosser, a command duty officer with the Coast Guard's District 17 command center, said the Alaska Juris remained in the same area where it was abandoned at about noon Tuesday, more than 150 miles northwest of Adak in Alaska's western Aleutian Islands.

Officials said Wednesday morning the Alaska Juris was still afloat, but as the day wore on the condition of the ship became unknown. The Coast Guard has not visited the scene of the sinking since around the time rescue operations wrapped up, said Petty Officer John-Paul Rios.

The ship was last seen sinking 41 miles northeast of Segula Island in the Rat Islands archipelago of Western Alaska, according to the Coast Guard. Marines in the area have been cautioned to avoid the area due in part to 17 mile per hour winds and fog.

The crew of the Alaska Juris reported flooding in the engine room Tuesday, then donned survival suits and left the ship in three rafts. The crews of four merchant ships — the Spar Canis, the Vienna Express, Seafisher and Ocean Peace — responded to the distress call and rescued everyone from the rafts uninjured.

The Coast Guard hasn't received further details from the Alaska Juris crew on what might have caused the flooding, Schlosser said.

The crew arrived safely in Adak on Wednesday afternoon, Rios said.

Schlosser said a private company, Resolve Marine Group, has been contracted to recover the 229-foot trawler. The tugboat Resolve Pioneer is en route to the scene but not expected to arrive for up to two days, the Coast Guard reported Wednesday evening.

"Once they get on the scene they'll take over the recovery operation, and then an investigation will begin into what caused the (flooding)," Schlosser said.

Additionally, the Coast Guard announced it had formed a unified command with the Fishing Company of Alaska, which owns the Alaska Juris, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to respond to the sinking ship.

So far, there have been no reports of injuries from the Juris' crewmembers or pollution, according to the Coast Guard.


Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.