A 218-foot fishing trawler owned by the Seattle-based Fishing Company of Alaska apparently sunk into the Bering Sea in the Aleutian Islands, following the rescue of 46 crewmembers, state officials say.
A search of the area northwest of Adak, 41 miles northeast of Segula Island in the Aleutians, by the F/V Alaska Endeavor, the salvage tug Resolve Pioneer, and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft showed not a trace of the Alaska Juris, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said July 30.
A search was also conducted along the vessel’s projected course, also with no sighting of the vessel. All evidence indicated that the vessel had sunk and the search has been abandoned, DEC officials said.
The Coast Guard and DEC will continue to monitor the area, but no further action is required at this time, according to the state agency.
Rescue efforts began on July 26 when the crew of the Alaska Juris sent a distress signal, donned survival suits and abandoned ship into three life rafts. The Coast Guard 17th District picked up the electronic distress call and issued an urgent call to merchant ships in the area to respond to crewmembers aboard the life rafts.
Twenty-eight crewmembers were rescues from two life rafts by the crew of the Norwegian flagged bulk carrier Spar Canis and the German-flagged container ship Vienna Express rescued the other 18 crewmembers from the third life raft.
Two other vessels, the F/V Ocean Peace and F/V Seafisher, transported the rescued crewmembers to Adak, according to DEC.
No injuries were reported, and there have been no reports of impacted fish or wildlife in the area.
According to potential responsible party, Fishing Company of Alaska, the Alaska Juris had a maximum potential 100,000 gallons of diesel as well as other miscellaneous lube oils on board.
A sheen of unrecoverable diesel fuel was located in the search area on July 29. While the source of the sheen was unverified, it was assumed to be from the Alaska Juris. The sheen has since dissipated, DEC officials said.
Fishing Company of Alaska also owned the factory trawler Alaska Ranger, which sunk in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008. Five of the 47 men on board, including the captain, died, with only the bodies of four men ever recovered.
The National Transportation Safety Board attributed the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, which was originally designed for use as an oil field service vessel, to the loss of one of two rudders, which allowed water to pour into the rudder room.