The Coast Guard is still searching for a mariner who fell overboard from a fishing vessel near Unimak Island Wednesday morning.
The man fell from the F/V Seeker, 10 miles northwest of Unimak Island, according to Coast Guard Petty Officer Grant DeVuyst. The Seeker is a 98-foot trawler out of Newport, Oregon.
DeVuyst says the Coast Guard was alerted to the incident by the good Samaritan fishing vessel Seafreeze Alaska, a 296-foot trawler-processor based in Seattle. DeVuyst says several other vessels searched unsuccessfully for the mariner before a helicopter crew got to the scene.
“I’m not sure exactly … whether they saw someone in the water or just noticed he was missing,” he says. “We just know that there was a report of a man in the water, so our number one priority was to get a helicopter in the air and get them over the area to start searching.”
The Coast Guard sent an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Cold Bay, where it’s forward-deployed for the fishing season. DeVuyst says the helicopter made one initial search and had to come back to refuel before making another attempt.
As of around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, DeVuyst says the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley had arrived on scene to start searching. The Jayhawk crew had returned again to Cold Bay. DeVuyst says the cutter’s MH-65 Dolphin helicopter is off the vessel due to weather concerns, but it’s ready to deploy from the ground if needed. The cutter is expected to search into the evening.
“There’s some rough weather out there, which of course just makes a search more difficult,” he says.
DeVuyst says there were eight- to 10-foot seas on scene when the cutter arrived.
Marine forecasts for the Unimak Island area show a gale warning and a heavy freezing spray warning through Thursday. Snow and winds up to 40 mph are also forecasted.