Officials say a U.S. Coast Guard boat crew rescued three people after their fishing vessel took on water and sank less than a mile from Grays Harbor Friday, April 15th.
U.S. Coast Guard officials say the crew of the 74-foot Fishing Vessel Privateer called for help Friday afternoon, saying they were taking on water through a hole up to 12 inches in size.
Responders tried to use pumps but couldn’t keep up with the water, before abandoning the vessel.
Officials urged boaters to stay away from the partially submerged boat, which continues to drift, and beach, north of the north jetty.
The Washington Department of Ecology said Saturday that the captain of the vessel is in the hospital, and that they are concerned about a possible fuel leak, the boat has about 3,000 gallons of fuel on board.
State officials said they saw no sign of a fuel spill as of noon Saturday.
The Coast Guard said on Friday that the 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor transported the fishermen to shore, where emergency medical services personnel evaluated one of them for a reported heart condition.
The crew of the 74-foot fishing vessel Privateer called Station Grays Harbor watchstanders via VHF radio channel 16 at 2:26 p.m., stating they were taking on water through an 8-to-12-inch hole, deploying their life raft and donning immersion suits preparing to abandon ship.
After arriving on scene, the MLB crew attempted to use dewatering pumps on the boat but could not keep up with flooding. The boat crew made the advisement to abandon ship and pulled all three fishermen off the sinking vessel.
“It was clear the fishing crew had conducted drills and were prepared for an emergency,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Hylkema, coxswain of the MLB. “They had marine VHF radios, a life raft and immersion suits. It was a terrifying situation, but their actions proved they were ready.”
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, in Warrenton, Oregon, have issued an urgent marine information broadcast for area boaters to steer clear of the partially submerged vessel, which is reported to be drifting north of the north jetty.
The vessel reportedly had no catch on board and a max fuel capacity of 6,000 gallons. A rainbow sheen was observed around the boat, but it has reportedly dissipated.
Pollution responders at Coast Guard Incident Management Division in Astoria have opened the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to begin cleanup assessment.
The cause of the sinking is currently unknown.
Weather on scene at the time of the incident was reportedly an air temperature of 57 degrees and a water temperature of 52 degrees with 8-foot swells.