The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche assisted the crew of the disabled fishing vessel Alaska Mist in the Bering Sea near Amak Island on Thursday.
Joint effort between the crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the 207-foot tug Resolve Pioneer and the fishing vessel Pavlof resulted in the successful tow of the Alaska Mist and safe disembarkation of the crew to Dutch Harbor.
The 166-foot Alaska Mist, with 22 crewmen aboard, suffered a mechanical failure and became disabled and adrift 30 miles northwest of Amak Island Saturday. The master arranged for commercial assistance and contacted the Coast Guard to advise them of the situation. Coast Guard watchstanders at the 17th District command center issued an urgent marine information broadcast advising mariners in the area of the Seattle-based Alaska Mist’s circumstances and identified the Waesche as a secondary towing platform.
The Resolve Pioneer crew departed Dutch Harbor early Sunday. Meanwhile the Alaska Mist crew deployed their sea drogue and the crew of their sister ship, the 162-foot Seattle-based Pavlof, arrived on scene, took the vessel in tow and slowed its drift until the Resolve Pioneer arrived. The tug crew made several attempts to establish a tow before suffering a towing equipment failure and moving off station to effect repairs. The crew of the Alaska Mist, having drifted to just within 10 miles of shore, was able to anchor successfully to await further assistance.
As the Waesche crew transited to the stricken vessel the Coast Guard moved a Kodiak-based MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Dutch Harbor to Cold Bay to assist the forward deployed Kodiak-based Jayhawk crew should a rescue effort have become necessary.
“The crew of the Alaska Mist acted in everyone’s best interest by taking immediate steps to advise us of their situation and arrange for assistance,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Amy Canny, with the 17th District command center. “Their actions allowed us to plan ahead and provide the additional towing asset that was needed. Through the use of the national security cutter, the professionalism of the crews, and their coordination we were able to ensure the safety of the crew and vessel.”
Once on scene, the Waesche crew arranged the transportation of non-essential crewmembers from the Alaska Mist. During the first transfer of passengers on Monday night, a Waesche crewmember was injured while recovering the small boat. A Coast Guard helicopter crew transported the member to Cold Bay for a commercial medevac to Anchorage and further medical care. The incident is under investigation.
Weather conditions at the time of the initial incident and the tug crew’s attempts to tow the vessel were 35 mph winds and seas of 5 to 10 feet with rain. During the Waesche’s transfer of personnel and tow set up weather was reportedly 40 to 46 mph winds with seas of 10 feet.
The Jayhawk crew safely transported all further non-essential personnel off the Alaska Mist Tuesday.
The Waesche crew safely towed the Alaska Mist to Unalaska Island Thursday, and the Pioneer Resolve took the final leg of the tow into Dutch Harbor.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the mechanical failure aboard the Alaska Mist.
The Waesche, is a 418-foot Legend-class national security cutter from Alameda, Calif., currently assigned to the Coast Guard 17th District for a Bering Sea patrol. The Coast Guard has conducted these patrols since the Revenue Cutter Service, its predecessor service, transported the first federal officials to the territory of Alaska in 1867. Today, Coast Guard cutters from Alaska and the West Coast ply the waters of the Bering Sea to ensure the safety of mariners by providing a search and rescue platform and enforcing federal safety and fishing regulations.
US Coast Guard, November 15, 2013