The Coast Guard rescued five fishermen from the 78-foot Fishing Vessel Titan after it grounded and began to take on water off of the A-jetty on the north side of the Columbia River near Ilwaco, Washington, Friday.
A Coast Guard Cape Disappointment 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew responded to the situation, safely removed the fisherman after dewatering efforts failed, and took them back to the station.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received a distress call at 2:16 am Friday from the fishing vessel crew stating that they had grounded and were taking on water in their engine room. The watchstanders directed the launch of the motorlifeboat (MLB) crew from Cape Disappointment and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria, Oregon.
Once on scene with the fishing vessel, the MLB crew transferred a dewatering pump to the vessel crew, but they were unable to keep up with the flooding. So they put on their survival suits, lowered their anchor to help secure the vessel and then abandoned their vessel onto the MLB. There were no injuries reported by the fishermen.
Here’s Coast Guard night vision video of the rescue. Click here.
“The professionalism of the fishing vessel crew was a huge factor in this case,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Wakefield, operations specialist and Sector Columbia River search and rescue coordinator. “Their ability to stay calm and focused in a stressful situation enabled our personnel to rescue them safely.”
The vessel was reported to have 3,500 gallons of diesel fuel on board at the time. The smell of diesel fuel has been reported in the area, as well as a visible sheen on the water. The amount of fuel released is unknown. The vessel’s owner has contracted with Global Diving and Salvage to clean up the fuel and conduct salvage operations.
The Coast Guard is investigating the cause of the grounding and will monitor the clean up. An overflight of the scene by a Coast Guard helicopter is planned.
The Titan is homeported in Warrenton, and was reported to be carrying 40 to 50,000 pounds of Dungeness crab.