With winds in excess of 50 knots out of the north, Murphy says flying a Sitka helicopter south out of Cordova was the faster option for getting to the stricken Lady Gudny. (USCG photo)

Four mariners were rescued from their stricken fishing vessel in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday (1-6-17) — in a mission coordinated by Air Station Kodiak, and executed by Air Station Sitka.

The trawler Lady Gudny reported fuel problems about 230 miles southeast of Kodiak on Thursday. By Friday the boat was adrift in high winds and heavy seas.

Cmdr. Mo Murphy, operations officer at Air Station Sitka, says his unit decided to be proactive about a possible rescue of the Lady Gudny’s crew.

“When we heard they were in trouble, we pre-positioned one of our aircraft in Cordova, in anticipation of having to respond.”

Cordova was about 200 miles north of the Lady Gudny’s position. The Coast Guard Air Station there is manned in summertime by personnel from Kodiak, but it’s not usually manned at all in winter.

But, with winds clocking at around 50 miles per hour out of the north, Cordova proved to be the ideal location for the Air Station Sitka helicopter to launch on Friday morning.

“The seas were about 20 feet with some 30-footers. And so anytime you’re over a boat that’s moving that much it’s going to get a little sporty for the basket or anybody that’s in the basket going down to try and help folks out. So yes, it was close to our limitations both for distance — it ended up being about 235 miles away from Cordova — the crew only had about 30 minutes on scene before they had to return to base for fuel. And for sea state.”

Video: Fishing vessel Lady Gudny rescue

The Air Station Sitka helicopter successfully hoisted all four crewmembers of the Lady Gudny and flew them across the Gulf to Kodiak, where they were reported to be in good health.

Murphy is pleased with the performance of his crew during the mission. The only problem now: He’s got to get his helicopter back from Kodiak. Maybe later this week, if the weather holds.

“It’s a couple-hour flight from Kodiak to Cordova. Then anywhere from 3-4 hours from Cordova back to Sitka. So that will be a nice flight for people — if it’s nice weather — to see the coast all the way down.”

The Lady Gudny was last reported under tow by a commercial tug back to Kodiak — as was the Coast Guard Cutter Spar. The Spar attempted to take the Lady Gudny under tow, but the tow line broke and got caught in the Spar’s propellers, disabling the ship.