Edmonds-based fishing boat sinks off Alaska; crew rescued

An Edmonds-based fishing boat sank Thursday night off the coast of southeastern Alaska, and all four crew members were rescued, the U.S. Coast Guard reported. Officials said the 84-foot Mary Kay sank in about 600 feet of water, with a potential fuel load of 2,500 gallons of diesel aboard. It is not reported to be a hazard to navigation. The sinking happened near Dixon Entrance, a waterway separating the north coast of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlottes) from the southern Alaskan panhandle.

The Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the cause of the sinking. Lt. Ryan Erickson, a search and rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Juneau, said it is unlikely the fishing vessel will be recovered due to the depth of the water where it sank.

The Coast Guard was notified at about 10:46 p.m. Thursday that the vessel was taking on water off Cape Chacon near South Prince of Wales Island. Coast Guard Sector Juneau immediately issued an urgent Marine information broadcast. Several good Samaritan vessels responded, among them was the Irish Rose, the North Wind, the Alaska state trooper vessel Enforcer, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Bartlett, an 18-foot Alaska Wildlife trooper skiff as well as a Canadian aircraft. Coast Guard ordered a launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station in Sitka, but before the helicopter could initiate its launch, good Samaritan vessels arrived at the scene near Dixon entrance. An 18-foot Alaska wildlife trooper skiff and a tender from the fishing vessel Irish Rose were first to arrive on scene and located the four crewmen of the Mary Kay in immersion suits and a liferaft.

The crew of the skiff took the four survivors aboard from the liferaft and transferred them to another fishing vessel, the North Wind. The survivors reported no injuries and were taken to Ketchikan, Alaska, aboard the North Wind. They arrived there early Friday morning. At least one of the crew members is from the Puget Sound area.