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VIDEO: Hard aground in Alaska

After losing power, the 58-foot commercial fishing vessel TerriGail ran aground Feb. 8 on Unalaska Island in Alaska's Aleutians chain.

The five-man crew had been evacuated by Coast Guard helicopter in the stormy Bering Sea before the vessel grounded.

The crew contacted the Coast Guard at 4:04 a.m. - about 11 hours before the boat ran aground - to report a "mechanical casualty" and that they might need assistance. The TerriGail was 40 miles from Unalaska and carrying 800 gallons of diesel.

Click play to watch Coast Guard video of the vessel being pounded in the surf on Unalaska Island. Mobile users can click here to watch (video courtesy of Marine Safety Detachment Unalaska).

The 378-foot cutter Morgenthau, patrolling 10 miles from the TerriGail, proceeded toward the fishing vessel and shadowed it as the crew attempted to make repairs.

When it became apparent that the problem could not be fixed, the Morgenthau attempted to establish a tow. The attempt was unsuccessful, however, because of heavy seas and the TerriGail crew's inability to retrieve the tow line.

0215_mapAn HH-65 Dolphin helicopter then launched from the Morgenthau. It hoisted the fishermen from the drifting vessel and transferred them to the cutter. No injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard monitored the steel-hulled TerriGail as it washed up on the rocky shore and was pounded in the surf. The TerriGail's owner had contracted a tug to tow the vessel, but it turned back when its crew heard that the boat had grounded.

Weather conditions made salvage operations unsafe - winds 30 to 50 mph with 10-foot seas - and conditions were expected to worsen.

"The problem is where it's located [in Alimuda Bay] is not accessible by land, only by sea or air," Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley says.

The helicopter crew, working with Marine Safety Detachment Unalaska personnel, flew over the scene Feb. 9 to check for environmental damage. No signs of pollution were reported.

The Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation were monitoring the TerriGail and any future salvage operations, which would be the responsibility of the vessel's owner.

Comments (2) Comments are closed
2 Thursday, 17 March 2011 20:17
Philip Warner
The Coast Guard rescued the crew. The Coast Guard is not in the salvage business and they did what they could do to save lives.
1 Tuesday, 15 February 2011 19:03
Dan Woolf
The US Coast Guard Helicopter could have avoided the grounding by lowering the lead line for the tow or drop a person on board to receive the line. Instead they risked the lives of the ships crew. I assume they did not because of the owners call to the commerical tug. This did not need to happen when the ship was 40 miles off shore and the Coast Guard was only 10 miles away.
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