After weathering a stormy night, the fishing vessel Rebecca Irene is on its way back to Unalaska.
The 140-foot catcher-processor lost power in one engine on Tuesday morning, leaving it stranded in open ocean as the massive weather front hitting western Alaska moved in.
As a precaution, the Coast Guard cutter Sherman evacuated 20 of the 34 crewmembers on Tuesday afternoon and stayed with the Rebecca Irene through the night. Petty Officer Sara Francis says the conditions near Unimak Pass weren’t as extreme as forecast.
“The worst weather they saw was 30 mile per hour winds, 6 foot seas, and 17 foot swells.”
Forecasters had been predicting 55 mile per hour winds and 35-foot seas for the area.
A tug contracted by the Rebecca Irene’s parent company Iquique US arrived on scene early this morning (Nov 9) and hooked up a towline.
Dan Magone owns the tug Double Eagle. He says the Eagle had to dodge some rough weather during the storm.
“It had to duck in behind Akutan Island there for a while. They had gusts of 70-80 [mph].“
The Rebecca Irene, the Double Eagle, and the Sherman are making their way toward Unalaska and are expected in port Thursday evening, barring any complications.
Magone says it’s going to be a slow ride.
“Some of these boats we’re able to tow 6-7 knots no problem. But this one here is a pretty hard tow.”
The Rebecca Irene is carrying 270,000 pounds of frozen fish. The crewmembers who were evacuated will stay on board the Sherman until they reach Unalaska.
So far the Coast Guard hasn’t had to deploy any of its other assets in response to the storm. Two Jayhawk helicopters remain stationed in the region, one in Cold Bay and one in King Salmon, and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter is in Unalaska.