Five people are missing after a crabbing vessel sank off the coast of the Alaskan peninsula overnight Tuesday.
Two other people have been rescued since the F/V (Fishing Vessel) Scandies Rose sank near Sutwik Island in the Gulf of Alaska, according to the United States Coast Guard.
A mayday call was heard around 10 p.m. local time, according to Seattle Fox affiliate Q13.
Forty mph winds had caused treacherous sailing conditions last evening, including 15- to 20-foot waves and reduced visibility.
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The Coast Guard has been using a Jayhawk helicopter and a Hercules airplane to search a wide swath of the chilly sea for potential additional survivors, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The Scandies Rose’s home port is at Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island — considered a capital of sorts for the crabbing industry and about 400 miles west of the vessel’s last known location. The vessel works seasonally with a Seattle-based seafood company, Q13 reported.
The crabbing industry has historically been a very dangerous line of work. In 2017, Washington State-based crab boat F/V Destination sank after accumulating sea-spray ice in the Bering Sea near St. Paul. The six crew aboard were lost.
The business of crabbing has received increased visibility nationwide, having been chronicled for the past 15 years by the Discovery Channel on its popular “Deadliest Catch” program narrated by Mike Rowe.
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Over the years, the program has followed Coast Guard helicopter crews that have taken part in dangerous rescues of crabbers in distress.
Coast Guard spokeswoman Melissa McKenzie told Aleutian Islands radio station KUCB that officials don’t yet know the cause of the Scandies Rose’s sinking.
“Right now, our primary focus is trying to find the five people who are still missing. Once the search-and-rescue aspect of this has concluded, then we will start focusing on the investigation side of it,” she told the station.
The two individuals who were rescued have been taken to a Kodiak hospital where they remain in stable condition, KUCB reported.