ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard rescued four boaters and their dog near Sitka Sept. 21 marking the busiest search and rescue week this summer for the Coast Guard 17th District.
“This has been a busy week across the state with our crews rescuing 14 people and a beloved pet,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, Commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “I am extremely proud of the men and women who have chosen to serve here. Their dedication to duty helps ensure that all mariners in Alaska can depend upon the Coast Guard to quickly respond when emergencies occur.”
Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received notification at 1:05 a.m. Sept. 21 that four people had not returned to Sitka as planned from a work trip to Klag Bay. The watchstanders immediately began radio call efforts, and directed the launch of a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka. Due to poor weather conditions, the helicopter launched at first light to search for the boaters.
Within minutes the helicopter crew located the four boaters on a beach in Klag Bay. “When the boaters heard the helicopter they used two flares to signal their location,” said Lt. Christopher Enoksen, the Coast Guard helicopter aircraft commander. “They also let their friends know where they were working and when they were supposed to return. A float plan is critical, especially in this dangerous environment.” The helicopter crew landed on the beach and safely escorted the four survivors and their dog onto the helicopter. All were returned to Sitka with no injuries reported.
As this case was beginning, another case across the Gulf of Alaska was successfully coming to an end. Four fishermen were rescued from a life raft more than 30 miles south of Resurrection Bay.
Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a mayday call from the crew of the 110-foot fishing vessel Moonlight Maid which was taking on water and sinking. A Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak launched and rescued the four men from a life raft at 10:51 p.m. The men were safely transported to Seward at 1:03 a.m. Sept. 21, with no reported injuries.
On Sept. 20, Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a mayday call at 12:04 p.m. After working with the Cordova Harbormaster, who also heard the mayday, they were able to narrow the search area. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, deployed at forward operating location Cordova, launched and found four hunters stranded on shore after their 19-foot boat sank near Gravina Point. The helicopter crew safely hoisted the survivors and transferred them to medical personnel in Cordova. There were no injuries reported.
At the Coast Guard’s forward operating location in Barrow, a Kodiak MH-60 helicopter crew was also called upon to perform a life saving rescue.
The Coast Guard received a request at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14, from the Air Force Command Center in Anchorage, to help investigate the source of an electronic location transmitter registered to a single engine airplane. The helicopter crew in Barrow was the closest available search and rescue asset and was directed to launch.
The crew located the crash site around 8:30 p.m. where the helicopter crew landed and found the father and son. They were safely returned to Barrow at 11:55 p.m. and transferred to emergency medical services.
“The success of these cases can be directly attributed to the seasonal and permanent locations of our rescue crews,” said Ostebo. “The cases in Barrow and Cordova highlight the importance of forward deploying our crews across the state. However, without the proper safety precautions taken by the boaters and pilot to alert emergency services and to have the proper emergency gear, these cases could have been a tragedy instead of a success.”