[B]Crew rescued after boat runs aground off Alaska[/B]
By DAN JOLING – 1 hour ago
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Four crewmen from a commercial fishing boat that ran aground in the Aleutian Islands on Wednesday made it to shore and were rescued by the Coast Guard.
Hurricane-force winds kept the Coast Guard from lifting crewmen directly from the 58-foot-long [I][B]Icy Mist[/B][/I], which ran aground off the rocky coast of Akutan Island, about 40 miles east of Dutch Harbor, a major Aleutian Islands fishing port. The vessel was in danger of breaking up.
After two attempts, rescuers instead instructed the crewmen to head for shore. The crew left the vessel, climbed a hill on the island and were picked up. Details of the rescue were not immediately known by Coast Guard officials in Juneau since communications with rescuers were difficult.
A Coast Guard cutter and three rescue helicopters had been sent to aid the crew, but foul weather and high winds hampered rescue efforts, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said.
The first helicopter sent, a HH-65 Dolphin launched from Dutch Harbor, was forced to turn back because of the wind, which was blowing at 45 mph, with gusts reaching 80 mph, Rios said.
The Coast Guard Cutter Munro, on patrol in the Bering Sea, was ordered to Akutan. It stood by 4 miles offshore and monitored the scene.
Two larger helicopters, MH-60 Jayhawks, were launched from St. Paul Island, about 265 miles northwest of Akutan. They also were unable to lift the crewmen off the vessel.
Rios said the Coast Guard received a mayday call early Wednesday reporting that the boat was taking on water. The call was received by the vessel Arctic Fox and relayed to the Northern Glacier, whose crew contacted the Coast Guard.
The vessel was later reported aground on Akutan Island, which is 766 miles southwest of Anchorage.
Rios said waves off the island were 15 feet high but he did not know what the crewmen had to do to reach shore.