Deckwatch: Hickory tends Western Alaska aids

In this week’s Deck Watch, Lt. j.g. Joel Wright, a officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, describes the challenges of performing the Aids to Navigation mission in the ever changing tides of Alaska’s coastal waterways. To listen to the interview click here.

In other Coast Guard news:

Oct. 20 – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Long Island and a good Samaritan vessel rescued three members of a duck hunting expedition Saturday in Harrison Lagoon near Whittier. Two of the hunters overturned their canoe while trying to retrieve a duck. They youngest member of the expedition was on land near a cabin, witnessed the event, and called 911. The 911 call was rerouted to the Coast Guard command center in Juneau who dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Kodiak and diverted the Long Island from a patrol in the region. The men we able to right their canoe and climb back aboard but were unable to row effectively due to the onset of hypothermia. They were exposed to 42 degree water for approximately 40 minutes. The Long Island arrived on scene along with the good Samaritan vessel Qayak Chief and recovered the two men from the canoe. The Qayak Chief transported the two men to civilian emergency medical services in Whittier. Three medically trained crewmembers from the Long Island went along on the transit to Whittier to provide medical support en route. The true hero of the dramatic rescue was the son of one of the victim’s, the 10-year-old boy who made the 911 call. The Long Island dispatched their small boat to retrieve the boy from shore and took him to Whittier to meet his family. The Coast Guard helicopter crew was released from the case prior to arriving on scene. The Coast Guard Cutter Long Island is a 110-foot Island-class patrol boat homeported in Valdez, Alaska.

Oct. 22 – A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak medevaced a diver from a 48-foot fishing vessel in Alitak Bay near the south end of Kodiak Island Monday. The helicopter crew hoisted the 24-year-old man, reportedly suffering from shortness of breath and intermittent consciousness, from the Patricia Kay at approximately 10:33 p.m. He was flown 92 miles northeast to meet emergency medical services at Air Station Kodiak and was transferred in stable condition. The Coast Guard was notified at approximately 8:30 p.m. of a possible medical emergency aboard the Patricia Kay by the Kodiak Police Department. A crewman aboard the vessel had been diving for sea cucumbers and was forced to surface quickly when he reportedly ran out of air. The crew of the vessel performed CPR and the master of the vessel called for assistance. The initial call was partially heard by police department personnel who relayed the information to Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center watchstanders.  The command center watchstanders consulted the duty flight surgeon who recommended the medevac. The weather at the time of the medevac was reportedly 17 mph winds with calm seas and an air temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit. The Patricia Kay is homeported in Kodiak.

Oct. 23 – The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a 62-year-old man who fell overboard from the fishing vessel Darlin’ Michele in the vicinity of Skagway Tuesday. The Coast Guard’s search effort included a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka, an Air Station Sacramento, Calif., HC-130 Hercules airplane crew, Skagway emergency response personnel, the Alaska State Troopers, three good Samaritan vessel crews and a Temsco helicopter crew. The Coast Guard crews searched an area approximately 20 square miles. Coast Guard Sector Juneau watchstanders received a phone call from a Skagway police officer Tuesday afternoon reporting that a crewmember from the vessel had fallen overboard. The crew of the vessel reported that they had deployed a life ring and attempted to pull the crewmember back aboard several times; however, while doing so the life jacket he was wearing broke and separated from the man and he was unable to latch onto the life ring. The search has been suspended pending any new information. Weather in the search area was reported as 35 mph winds and 2-foot seas. The Darlin’ Michele is a 48-foot gillnetter homeported out of Juneau, Alaska. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the missing man.