The U.S. Coast Guard and a good Samaritan vessel rescued for mariners after their fishing vessel capsized near Kodiak, Alaska. There are no immediate reports of injuries to the seamen onboard.
According to a Coast Guard press release, at about 4:30 pm on Sunday, January 21, the crew of the F/V ALASKA ROSE reported that the vessel was taking on water. At the time the seamen called for help, the vessel was about two miles off Chiniak Island, which is itself located northeast of Kodiak Island. Weather at the time of the mayday included 30 knot winds, 8-foot seas, and water temperatures around 40 degrees.
Coast Guard watchstanders then put out an emergency broadcast to alert other vessels in the area and call for help. The Coast Guard also immediately activated a Jayhawk helicopter from the Kodiak air station to rescue the seamen.
Rescuers were able to reach the ALASKA ROSE about 30 minutes after the crew called for help. Just before 5:00 pm, the Coast Guard helicopter team hoisted up one seaman from the overturned hull of the vessel. Shortly after, the good Samaritan vessel KYLIA arrived and rescued the remaining three seamen from the water. All four mariners were immediately transported to Kodiak for emergency medical care.
The ALASKA ROSE is a 46-foot fishing vessel based out of Chignik and Kodiak. There is no information on what the fishery the vessel was participating when it capsized. However, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a closure notice for a Tanner crab opener near Kodiak just before the vessel capsized. The ALASKA ROSE was presumably participating in the crab fishery.
While the crew was rescued quickly, water temperatures at or below 40 degrees pose an immediate risk of hypothermia. Initial exposure to cold water often causes hyperventilation and panic. After 15 to 30 minutes, core body temperature may start to drop, confusion can set in, and individuals can become lethargic and experience impaired motor function. Hypothermia can eventually cause individuals to lose consciousness.
Vessel sinkings and capsizings also pose several other risks of injury to seamen and mariners. In rough weather or when a vessel overturns, seamen may experience broken bones, cuts and lacerations, concussions, entanglements, and any manner of other injuries. In the worst cases and without an immediate rescue, seamen are at risk of drowning.
Hypothermia, cold exposure, and vessel sinkings are common threats to crabbers, commercial fishermen, and other seamen working in the waters around Alaska. Commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States.
Seamen injured on the job enjoy special rights and protections under maritime law, including claims for Jones Act negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure. The attorneys at Trueb Berne & Beard have represented injured fishermen and seamen in Alaska for more than 80 years combined. This includes injuries to crabbers, seafarers involved in sinkings, and several other types of maritime injury claims. If you are injured at sea, it is important to contact a maritime lawyer right away to protect your rights and interests.