Rescue and recovery tales from around the country and beyond. In this edition, a Sitka Sound sinking, fishermen stranded off the coast of California and N.C. fishermen survive a wreck by clinging to debris.


A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and the crew of a good Samaritan fishing boat rescued three people from a sinking fishing boat in the Sitka Sound on July 2.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Juneau received a report at 10:30 p.m. from the captain of the 33-foot F/V Leona, stating the vessel was taking on water and the bilge pumps were unable to keep up with the rate of flooding.

Juneau watchstanders issued an urgent broadcast and directed a helicopter crew to the scene. The Jayhawk crew lowered a dewatering pump to the Leona, but the pump was also unable to keep up with the rapid flooding. As the ship continued to sink, the three crew members abandoned ship to the nearby F/V Pacific Pearl. The Pacific Pearl transported the Leona crew back to Sitka.

“Even on the nicest of days at sea, an unplanned emergency can be just over the horizon,” said Cmdr. Michael Kahle, Sector Juneau search and rescue mission coordinator. “We are thankful that the crew of the Leona was prepared for an emergency situation and grateful for the efforts of the Pacific Pearl to assist their fellow fishermen.”

Weather at the time was 5-foot seas and 11-mph winds.


On Wednesday, July 25, a Coast Guard helicopter from Kodiak was dispatched to Duck Bay to medevac a 47-year-old fisherman from the F/V Nordic Cross after the crew member injured his leg.

The helicopter crew hoisted the crew member from the Nordic Cross and transported him to Kodiak, where he was transferred to awaiting emergency medical services personnel.

"The Nordic Cross crew did a great job of clearing their fishing gear from the deck so we could conduct a safe basket hoist," said Lt. Joseph Chevalier, aircraft commander of the case. "With that and the adaptability and coordination of the rescue swimmer and health services technician in the Jayhawk's cabin, we were able to get this man to emergency care quickly and efficiently."

Weather on scene was reported as 5 mph winds and 2-foot seas.


Coast Guard crew members medevaced an 18-year-old fisherman who injured his hand from the F/V Pacific Harvester in Prince William Sound on July 26.

Coast Guard watchstanders in Anchorage received a report from the captain of the Pacific Harvester requesting a medevac for the crewmember who was also displaying signs of shock following the hand injury. Watchstanders consulted with the duty flight surgeon who recommended a medevac and a boat crew was dispatched.

The station’s crew, including an emergency trauma technician, treated the man’s hand while in transit to a Valdez pier where he was transferred to awaiting emergency medical service personnel for higher care.

Weather on scene was reported as 1-foot seas, 12 mph winds, raining and overcast.


The Coast Guard rescued two fishermen off the coast of Santa Cruz after their 27-foot boat sank on July 1.

A jogger contacted Coast Guard watchstanders in San Francisco around 6:30 a.m. and reported seeing two people stranded on a rock off the coast of Wilder Ranch State Park.

A Sector San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter. Coast Guard photo.

Sector San Francisco launched a helicopter and a 47-foot lifeboat. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol also responded.

The helicopter crew located the stranded fishermen, who were both wearing life jackets. The crew hoisted the fishermen into the helicopter and transferred them to shore, where emergency medical personnel were waiting.

The fishermen reported they had struck an object early Sunday morning, causing their vessel to break apart and sink. They were able to swim to nearby rocks and call out to the jogger on shore for help.

"Life jackets played a pivotal role in the success of this rescue," said Cmdr. Tim List, the Sector San Francisco search and rescue mission coordinator for this case.

"Life jackets allowed these fishermen to stay afloat so they could make their way to the rocks and call out for help."


A Coast Guard aircrew medevaced an ill fisherman from a fishing boat 100 miles off of Pacific City, Ore., on July 31.

Paramedics from MEDIX ambulance and Warrenton Fire and Rescue receive a patient from a Sector Columbia River MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew at the sector's base in Warrenton, Ore. Coast Guard photo.

An aircrew from Sector Columbia River safely hoisted the 37-year-old fisherman, who reportedly experienced difficulty breathing and numbness in extremities, and transferred him to paramedics at the sector’s base.

Watchstanders on the Columbia River overheard a radio transmission calling for medical assistance from the F/V Zena D for one of its crew members at 4:42 a.m.

The aircrew arrived at 7:15 a.m., conducted the hoist and transferred the patient at 8:15 a.m. The fisherman was eventually transferred to Columbia Memorial Hospital

The on-scene sea and weather conditions included 5-foot seas and light wind.

Gulf & South Atlantic

Two men were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew on the morning of July 18 after their fishing boat capsized near Hog Island, N.C..

“Locating the two fishermen was a true team effort between local first responders, good Samaritans and the Coast Guard,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Karow, the search and rescue mission coordinator. “We are all grateful that the men were able to hold on to the floating debris throughout the long night.”

The wife of a fishermen called for help Tuesday night, on behalf of her husband, reporting that the generator on his fishing boat was not working properly and the men were trying to find safety near shore in deteriorating weather. They had departed from Ocracoke on Tuesday morning and were planning to shrimp in Pamlico Sound before unloading their catch in Engelhard.

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard's North Carolina command center coordinated search efforts with Air Station Elizabeth City aircrews, Station Hatteras Inlet boat crews, North Carolina wildlife enforcement officers, and local police.

Boat debris used to keep survivors afloat. Coast Guard photo.

At about 6:20 a.m., Wednesday, a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew located the overturned 35-foot F/V Mad Lady II about 4 miles south of Wysocking Bay. Neither of the men was with the boat, but another mariner reported a debris field about 7 miles northeast of the boat’s location. The aircrew began searching that area and found both men clinging to debris.

The men were rescued and taken back to Air Station Elizabeth City, where they met EMS. Neither was reported to have serious injuries, but they were taken to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center.


The Coast Guard medevaced a crew member from the 95-foot F/V Lady Jennie approximately 38 miles southeast of Port Aransas, Texas, on July 30.

Watchstanders in Corpus Christi received a request for a medevac from the captain of the boat after a crew member reportedly suffered a head injury.

AMH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew arrived on scene, hoisted the crew member and transported him to awaiting emergency medical services personnel.


A Coast Guard aircrew from Cape Cod medevaced a 40-year-old man experiencing abdominal pain on July 17 six miles southwest of Nantucket.

The captain of the F/V Provider notified Coast Guard watchstanders shortly after 2 p.m. of the sick crew member.

AMH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was conducting prescheduled training in the area at the time and diverted to the scene.

The aircrew hoisted the fisherman to the helicopter and flew him back to Air Station Cape Cod, where he was transferred to awaiting emergency medical services personnel.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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