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Fishing boat runs aground in the Eastern Aleutians

Pacific Sounder ran aground
Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard
The 98-foot Pacific Sounder hailed a MAYDAY call at 10:43 Friday morning, but the crew waited three hours before they were rescued. Eventually, the Good Samaritan boat, the Polar Sea, arrived and found the crew unharmed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated a U.S. Coast Guard representative told KUCB that Resolve Marine planned to scuttle the stranded vessel. The Coast Guard has followed up saying the salvage company is not going to scuttle the boat at this time. Resolve Marine has since confirmed they currently have no plans to sink the vessel and are still considering all options.

A 98-foot fishing boat ran aground in the Eastern Aleutians late last week.

Four people were on board F/V Pacific Sounder when she got stuck on the western shore of Unimak Island — between Unalaska and the Alaska Peninsula — on the morning of June 17.

The Pacific Sounder hailed a MAYDAY call at 10:43 Friday morning but the crew waited three hours before they were rescued. Eventually, the Good Samaritan boat, the Polar Sea, arrived and found the crew unharmed.

“They were still on the boat when they ran aground,” said Nate Littlejohn, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard. “By the time the Polar Sea arrived on scene they were wearing their survival suits.”

Littlejohn says the boat owner has hired Resolve Marine, a salvage and wreck removal company out of Dutch Harbor, to recover the boat. The first thing they will do is make sure the diesel on board doesn’t spill into the ocean. And there’s a lot of it: 21,000 gallons, to be exact.

“Right now we have no reports of pollution,” Littlejohn said. “We sent out a Coast Guard helicopter crew Saturday who did not observe any pollution…that's not to say there hasn't been any diesel that has escaped, but we don't know of any at this time.”

Resolve said the Pacific Sounder is too stuck for them to be able to tow it. Instead, they’ll have to scuttle it. In other words, they’ll sink it, and Littlejohn said he doesn’t know how long that will take.

“It cannot be understated how complex this operation is,” Littlejohn said, “and to make a prediction about how long it's going to take is just not a good idea. It's just very unpredictable how long it'll take based on the weather.”

No reason has been given as to what caused the incident. The Coast Guard is currently investigating what led to the accident.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.
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