The Coast Guard and the Sitka Fire and Police Departments joined forces last night (12-10-14) to assist a troller that was grounded near Rockwell Lighthouse.
Kristopher Foster called the Coast Guard in Juneau to report that his 43-foot vessel, the Stardust, was taking on water after it hit the rocks and the bow split open. The call was placed at 5:30 Wednesday night.
Fortunately, help was not far. A training boat and Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Sitka were already in the area conducting hoist training.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Seavey was in the Jayhawk’s pilot seat.
“We were finishing a hoist, when both the 38 foot coast guard boat and helicopter received a mayday call,” said Seavey. “We didn’t immediately recognize the point the gentleman was saying he was located at. He was speaking fairly quickly and probably under a lot of stress. But the needle on the map that we had pointed right towards the town of Sitka.”
Since they were already airborne, Seavey and his co-pilot, Lt. Jason Condon, arrived at the scene within less than five minutes.
They were joined by Sitka’s Emergency Response Vessel (ERV), operated by Police Detective Ryan Silva, Fire Department Engineer Joe Danon, and volunteers Greg Rashick and Anthony Crews.
“We were all astonished at how quickly Sitka fire rescue was able to man and get their Emergency Response Vessel underway,” said Seavey. “They actually showed up minutes before our 38-footer came from the other side of Middle Island.”
That 38-foot Coast Guard vessel could not approach the Stardust, due to shallow water, but was able to deliver a dewatering pump to the ERV, which handed it off Foster. Once Foster controlled the flooding, a friend brought him and his vessel back to ANB Harbor. Foster’s dog rode home in the ERV, tucked under Danon’s coat.
Fire Chief Dave Miller said this is exactly what the ERV is designed to do.
“We have people that are available 24 hours a day to make that happen at the police department at this time,” said Miller. “And we’re working towards getting volunteers to be able to run the vessel too, in the near future.”
The Coast Guard’s Lt. Commander Seavey said that the operation was an excellent example of response agencies collaborating effectively.