Two fishermen on a sinking 40-foot boat in Islet Passage near Sitka, Alaska, were hoisted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter crew battling gale force winds Feb. 7.

The crew of the fishing vessel Glory called to request help around 8 p.m., and watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center directed Air Station Sitka to launch an MH-60 Jayhawk toward the location, about nine miles south of Sitka, according to a Coast Guard statement and video release.

Upon arrival the aircrew lowered a rescue swimmer who assessed that the boat was taking on water. The fishermen were unable to secure the source of the flooding, and the rescue swimmer advised the fisherman to abandon ship.

The video shows the rescue swimmer assisting the fishermen in survival suits to the foredeck of the Glory in heavy seas and gale force wind, and getting them in one at a time to the basket hoist to the aircraft overhead.

With the fishermen safely off, the swimmer then returns to the helicopter by hoist.

“This successful case highlighted the importance of mariner preparedness,” Lt. Cmdr. Scott Woodcock, the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot on the case, said in a prepared statement. "The biggest challenge during this rescue was the severe winds, however, the fishermen were well prepared with good communication equipment and survival gear."

On scene weather was an air temperature of 41 degrees, 5-foot. seas and 55-mph wind gusts.

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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