A tug is searching an area of the Bering Sea for an abandoned fishing vessel, which was still afloat Tuesday after its crew of 46 abandoned ship, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Petty Officer John-Paul Rios said the 229-foot Alaska Juris hasn't been seen by crew members of the tug Resolve Pioneer, which was contracted to retrieve the trawler. The tugboat reached the area, about 150 miles northwest of Adak, on Thursday evening but found only poor weather conditions.
"Obviously, due to the weather and the heavy fog, there wasn't that much they could do," Rios said.
The Alaska Juris has been unoccupied since Tuesday morning, when crew members reported flooding in the vessel's engine room, donned survival suits and departed the ship in a trio of life-rafts. Four merchant ships helped rescue the crew.
Crew members arrived in the Aleutian Islands community of Adak Wednesday morning at about 10:30 a.m., said City Manager Layton Lockett. The small community had prepared the local clinic for their arrival, but none of them needed medical attention, Lockett said.
What they did need were shoes, which couldn't be worn in their survival suits. Lockett said residents of Adak provided shoes to some of them; others had extras provided on the rescue vessels.
The commercial fishermen started flying out of Adak the same day they arrived, with the last of the group departing Thursday, all on chartered flights. They chose this option, Lockett said, because in addition to their shoes, many are believed to have lost their IDs to the Bering Sea.
The Coast Guard has launched a C-130 search plane Friday to aid the search for the Alaska Juris, which was scheduled in the area during the afternoon — although Rios said the degree of aid it provides may be limited by cloud cover.
"It all comes down to the (cloud) ceilings," Rios said. "The problem with that area is that they fluctuate between 200 and 600 feet, so obviously we can't fly an aircraft that low because our primary concern is safety."
The Coast Guard said in a release Friday evening air and sea searches have, so far, been unsuccessful. Ribbons of diesel sheen were spotted on the water in the search area, but the source of the sheen is unknown.
"Upon second pass of the search area, the captain aboard the Resolve Pioneer reported the sheen had dissipated naturally. No other sheens have been observed or reported at this time," the release said.