Coast Guard ready to respond to severe storm
KODIAK, Alaska - The Coast Guard continues to work with federal and state partners and is keeping prestaged assets in Western Alaska to respond to any incidents that arise from the severe storm affecting the Bering Sea and Northwest Alaska Wednesday.
"We are continuing to work with our federal, state and local partners to address the needs of Alaskans resulting from the storm as they arise," said Capt. Daniel Travers, Coast Guard District 17 chief of incident management. "We currently have helicopters positioned in parts of Western Alaska and the Coast Guard Cutter Sherman is on patrol in the Bering Sea."
The forecast for Wednesday in Northwest Alaska includes winds of 60 to 70 mph decreasing throughout the day, blizzard warnings, coastal flood warnings and heavy freezing spray in the Northern Bering Sea.
Coast Guard resources were not needed overnight to respond to any requests for medical evacuations or vessels in distress. However, the Sherman remains on scene with the partially disabled fishing vessel Rebecca Irene 50 miles north of Amak Island in the Bering Sea.
"The crews of both vessels worked together throughout the night to ensure the safe transit of the Rebecca Irene and we are pleased that there have been no injuries or damage to the vessel from the storm," said Travers. "Safety of the crews is our primary concern."
The tug Double Eagle arrived on scene at 9:20 a.m. They are working to establish a tow with the Rebecca Irene and will transit to Dutch Harbor. They are expected to reach Dutch Harbor sometime Thursday.
There are currently 20 Rebecca Irene crewmembers aboard the Sherman who were transferred from the fishing vessel for safety in advance of the approaching storm. They will remain aboard the cutter for the transit to Dutch Harbor. Fourteen essential crewmen remain aboard the fishing vessel to operate it. The vessel is currently traveling at about 6 mph.
Current weather on scene is reported as 26 mph winds with 2 foot seas and 4 foot swells. Overnight the most significant weather reported was winds of 30 mph with 6 foot seas and 17 foot swells.
The Rebecca Irene contacted the Coast Guard at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday requesting assistance. The turbocharger on their single engine, previously reported as one of two engines, had become inoperable and their propulsion was significantly reduced. The Sherman arrived on scene at about noon and began an escort of the vessel while the owner of the vessel contracted for the Double Eagle to rendezvous with them to conduct the tow.
The Rebecca Irene is a 146-foot, previously reported as 143-foot, Seattle-based fishing vessel with approximately 270,000 pounds of frozen fish in the ship's holds. They are equipped with three life rafts and enough immersion suits for the crew.
For more information about current weather conditions visit the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Website at www.arh.noaa.gov. To learn more about being prepared during an emergency situation, visit the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's Website at www.ak-prepared.com.
For more information contact Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis at 907-321-4501.
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