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Rural Alaska

Coast Guard rescues 5 near Southwest Alaska village, after boat lost power

  • Author: Alex DeMarban
  • Updated: September 29, 2018
  • Published September 29, 2018

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued five people stranded on a boat that had lost power near the Southwest Alaska village of Tununak on Saturday.

The agency received notice late Friday that the 22-foot boat was adrift without power, taking on water and dragging anchor about four miles off the coast of Tununak, located on the Bering Sea west of Bethel.

A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter from Kodiak arrived about 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, and hoisted the crew into the aircraft.

The people in the skiff had a VHF radio that was running out of batteries.

The Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Munro and the Canadian research vessel Frosti headed toward the disabled vessel to assist. A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircrew from Kodiak launched and made VHF radio contact with family members of the boat crew in the village.

"The family members guided the pilots to the location of the distressed vessel and got them in radio range of the people aboard," the agency said.

"Because the family of these folks had VHF radios, and because they had a radio aboard as well, we were better able to locate them and understand their situation," said Lt. Casey Corpe, C-130 Hercules co-pilot in the rescue. "Though they did not have a life jacket for every person on the boat, I'm sure that next time they go out they will. Alaskan water temperatures are unforgiving. If something goes wrong on the water, a life jacket often means the difference between life and death."

Conditions when the Coast Guard arrived on scene were 40 mph winds, 6-foot seas, 10-mile visibility, and 49 degree air and water temperatures.

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