Coast Guard crews rescued five people after their vessel sank eight miles west of Siletz Bay early Saturday.
Three of the survivors were rescued from their life raft by an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Newport and treated for minor injuries by EMS at the Newport Municipal Airport. The other two survivors were transferred from the life raft to a 47-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB) from Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay and were evaluated by EMS at the station.
This is how the original call for help sounded from the F/V Blazer that was picked up by Coast Guard Station North Bend:
The Coast Guard later released a video of the actual helo rescue of three of the F/V Blazer crewmen who put on survival suits and were found floating in the water. Click here.
“The preparedness of the crew of Blazer was exceptional,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Blanchard, search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector North Bend, Oregon. “They recognized when they needed help and took the steps necessary to put themselves in a position where we could quickly and safely bring them home to their families. Having the proper safety equipment and training to use it is essential for all mariners, especially commercial fishermen of the Pacific Northwest.”
Coast Guard Sector North Bend watchstanders received a mayday call over VHF-FM radio channel 16 at 4:17 a.m. from the crew of the 75-foot fishing vessel Blazer stating that they were disabled, taking on water, and jettisoning their crab pots.
Approximately 10 minutes after the initial mayday call, the Blazer crew reported that they were putting on immersion suits and deploying their life raft. Sector North Bend watchstanders then lost communication with the crew of the vessel.
The MLB crew launched at 4:41 a.m. in response and the Dolphin crew launched at 4:45 a.m.
The Dolphin crew located the heavily listing Blazer and its crew nearby in a life raft, at 5:04 a.m. The aircrew lowered a rescue swimmer into the water at 5:20 a.m. to assess the condition of the crewmembers in the life raft.
After everyone in the life raft was accounted for, the Dolphin crew hoisted three of the survivors into the aircraft. The MLB crew arrived on scene at 6 a.m. and transferred the remaining two survivors to the MLB.
The Blazer sank in 420 feet of water with reportedly 2,000 gallons of diesel aboard. There have been no reports of pollution at this time. Sector North Bend pollution responders are monitoring the situation and will respond if needed.
Coast Guard officials will work with the owner to establish a salvage plan for the vessel, if possible. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
Weather on scene at the time of the incident was reportedly winds at 30 to 35 mph with seas of 15 feet and rain. The air temperature was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
The F/V Blazer is owned by DDR Fisheries out of Bothell (near Seattle), WA but is homeported in Newport.
A Newport Coast Guard helicopter crew was on scene and hovering over the crewmen in 19 minutes whereas, due to heavy seas, the Depoe Bay Coast Guard motorlifeboat took over an hour longer to get on scene. It demonstrates very clearly the critical need for the Newport Coast Guard Air Facility to remain open rather than closed December 15th under orders of the Commandant of the Coast Guard based in Washington DC. Fishermen’s Wives along with Lincoln County Commissioners, Newport Port Commissioners and the Newport City Council have filed a request with the federal court in Eugene to order the Coast Guard to keep the Newport Air Facility open until the Coast Guard goes through the proper legal steps to even consider closing the facility. That court hearing is set for December 11th.
As for this morning’s rescue off Siletz Bay the Fishermen’s Wives issued this statement:
We are, once again, grateful for the amazing work of our USCG for this morning’s rescue of the crew on the F/V Blazer. Three were rescued by the helo from our Newport Air Station, and two by the MLB from Depoe Bay. This is just another example of how important our helo is here…
Meanwhile, the Pacific Fishery Management Council based in Portland has joined the chorus of agencies and organizations in calling for the Newport Air Facility Base to remain open. Details are in the Oregonian. Click here.