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Fishing Charter Vessel Sinks Near Sitka, Alaska

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Vessel Sinkings

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A sportfishing vessel disappeared with five people onboard near Stika, Alaska on Sunday, May 28.  The 30-foot charter vessel, run by Kingfisher Charters, was last seen underway on Sunday afternoon and reported overdue the same evening.  The U.S. Coast Guard, local emergency services in Sitka, and good Samaritan vessels mashaled a search at about 7:00 pm Sunday night.  A Coast Guard helicopter found the vessel partially submerged near Low Island, a small island off Kruzof Island about 10 miles west of Sitka.  One body was recovered at the vessel while the four other individuals on board remain missing.  After searching all day Monday, the Coast Guard called off the search at 9:30 pm on Monday night.

U.S. Coast Guard photo / Petty Officer 1st Class William Greer

The weather in Sitka Sound was rough Sunday afternoon and evening when the vessel went missing.  The area saw six- to ten-foot seas and strong, gusty winds.  According to the Sitka Sentinel, the Coast Guard helicopter found the sunken vessel three minutes after launching.  Only five feet of the bow remained above the water.  Rescuers found the body of a man in his 50s in the water nearby.  The identities of the deceased and missing have not been released.  It is unknown what caused the vessel to sink. The accident remains under investigation.

Southeast Alaska is a well-known sportfishing destination.  While accidents are rare, unpredictable weather and sea conditions in Alaska pose a risk to small sportfishing boats and commercial vessels alike.  Several vessels have sunk or required rescue in the past year.  In July 2022, three crewmembers survived the sinking of a 37-foot commercial vessel near Sitka while power trolling for king salmon near Chichagof Island.  In October 2022, the Coast Guard rescued a man and two dogs after a recreational vessel sank near Hoonah, Alaska.