U.S. Coast Guard prepares for severe weather

DATE: November 8, 2011 12:00:00 PM AKST
Coast Guard prepares for severe weather

KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard is working with federal and state agencies to respond to incoming severe weather in the Bering Sea and Western Alaska Tuesday.

“We are prestaging helicopters from Air Station Kodiak to parts of Western Alaska in response to severe weather advisories including hurricane force winds and high seas that are forecast all along the west coast of Alaska,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, Coast Guard District 17 chief of incident management.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter is currently stationed in Cold Bay as a response platform for the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery. The Coast Guard Cutter Sherman’s embarked MH-65 Dolphin helicopter has been diverted to Dutch Harbor to stand by as a search and rescue asset and a second Jayhawk helicopter may be sent to Western Alaska from Kodiak.

Coast Guard personnel in Anchorage are working with emergency responders from the State of Alaska and FEMA to address concerns and to prepare for any needs that arise in Western Alaska communities as a result of the storm.

The Coast Guard and commercial services are currently responding to a request for assistance from the 143-foot fishing trawler Rebecca Irene 138 miles northwest of Unimak Pass in the Bering Sea. Communications Station Kodiak received a call from the master of the fishing vessel at 3:45 a.m. reporting that one of their engines had become inoperable and they were underway with limited propulsion. They are headed toward Unimak Island at about 6 mph with 34 people aboard. The weather is forecast to degrade to 55 mph winds with seas of 35-feet by late afternoon.

Coast Guard District 17 search and rescue controllers issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting the assistance of any mariners in the area and diverted the Sherman from its patrol to assist. The Sherman is currently on scene and is planning to take all non-essential Rebecca Irene crewmembers aboard. The transfer will be conducted using the Sherman’s small boat.

The parent company of the Rebecca Irene has contracted with Magone Marine of Dutch Harbor for the tug Double Eagle to respond and tow the fishing vessel. Their estimated time of arrival to the stricken vessel is unknown at this time.

“The vessel is prepared for an emergency with survival suits and life raft accommodations for all the people aboard, but we are sending the Sherman as a preemptive action to further ensure the safety of the crew,” said Travers.

For more information about current weather conditions visit the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Website at www.arh.noaa.gov. To learn more about being prepared during an emergency situation, visit the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Managment’s Website at www.ak-prepared.com

For more information contact Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis at 907-321-4501 .