ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The United States Coast Guard (USCG), has called off the search for the missing fishing vessel Alaska Juris which is presumed sunk in approximately 5,400 feet of water in the Bering Sea.
The Alaska Juris has been lost and abandoned since Tuesday morning when crew members reported flooding in the vessel’s engine room, donned survival suits and departed the ship in a trio of life-rafts. Coast Guard rescue authorities sent a C-130 aircraft, diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Midgett and used the Amver system to alert several participating commercial ships in the area of the distress. The German-flagged container ship VIENNA EXPRESS, managed by Hapag-Lloyd AG, and Norwegian-flagged bulk carrier SPAR CANIS, managed by Spar Shipping, agreed to divert and assist the stricken fishing boat. Both Amver ships arrived on scene and successfully rescued all 46 crew members.
Following the rescue the USCG activated the fishing vessel Alaska Endeavor, the salvage tug Resolve Pioneer, and a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircraft crew to search the area northwest of Adak, Alaska, where the fishing vessel Alaska Juris was last seen. Searches by sea were conducted on July 28-30, and air searches were conducted on July 29 and 30, with the vessel not being found. A search was also conducted along the track of the vessel’s projected drift.
A diesel sheen was located in the search area but the vessel itself was not found.
“We have received reports of intermittent unrecoverable sheen, potentially resulting from the sinking of this vessel,” said Ron Doyle, state on-scene coordinator. “We do not anticipate any shoreline impacts.”
In 2006 the vessel was enrolled in the USCG’s controversial Alternate Compliance and Safety Agreement (ACSA) program (not the ACP, as previously reported).
The ACSA was set up for fishing vessels which were ruled processors that had previously been just fishing catcher vessels. The program came under fire in the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, also owned by FCA.
Another ACSA enrolled vessel from Fishing Company of Alaska, the Alaska Ranger, went down in March 2008. The crew of the Alaska Ranger made a chaotic evacuation that resulted in some crew members ending up in the water rather than in life rafts.
A major rescue effort was able to save the lives of 42 crew, while five others died.