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CG Rescues 5 From Fishing Vessel in Alaskan Gulf

A Coast Guard helicopter team rescued the captain and four crew members of a fishing tender that lost steering while navigating 20-foot seas in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday night, the Coast Guard said.

After drifting in the Gulf without its crew, the St. Joseph was found grounded on a gray-sand beach between Yakutat and Kayak Island. An overflight on Saturday confirmed the sighting between 9 and 10 a.m.

A vehicle and portable storage tank from the ship's deck were dislodged in the grounding and also came to rest in the sand, the vehicle on its side.

No fuel was observed to have spilled but officials were concerned about 1,400 gallons of diesel fuel on board. The Coast Guard said Saturday it was working with the ship's owner to recover the ship and its fuel.

The original call for help from the 55-foot tender was relayed by another boat to the Kodiak communications station at about 9:20 p.m. Friday. The St. Joseph was disabled and its captain was unable to steer, according to a written statement from the Coast Guard.

The cause "could've been any number of things," said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sara Francis.

The Coast Guard sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the St. Joseph, which was 52 miles southeast of Cordova on the open ocean. Rescuers in the chopper spoke to the vessel's captain by radio, Francis said.

"The helicopter was on scene for more than an hour before it was determined the best course of action was to hoist the crew from the vessel for safety," Francis said.

One by one, the crew members were loaded in a basket and pulled into the helicopter. All five were flown to Cordova in good condition, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard and the vessel owner plan to investigate what caused the steering failure, Francis said.

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