State sinks abandoned F/V Akutan after disastrous season

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley prepares to break tow with the F/V Akutan northwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, (Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard District 17)

The abandoned boat that plagued western Alaska for months is now on the bottom of the ocean. The U.S. Coast Guard assisted the state by performing an emergency scuttle of the F/V Akutan Thursday, three miles outside U.S. waters.

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The processor was abandoned in Unalaska in September following a disastrous fishing season in Bristol Bay where the ship’s owner went broke, the crew went unpaid and it’s 158,318-pound haul of salmon was declared unfit for human consumption.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) took custody of the derelict vessel in mid-January. In a press release, the Coast Guard says the scuttle was warranted “given the vessel’s condition and the tumultuous Bering Sea maritime environment this time of year.”

It is unclear how the state funded the disposal. This week, the Unalaska City Council was informed that DNR had asked them to help pay for the removal, but the state and Coast Guard sunk the F/V Akutan before the city had come to an agreement.