January 7, 2017 – Five crewmen were saved when the F/V Star King sank near the Columbia River bar during the first week of the West Coast crab season. The captain of the Star King issued an emergency may day call just after 4:30 A.M. Saturday morning reporting that the vessel was taking on water and listing to the starboard. The crew of the vessel were able to done survival suits and abandoned ship before the Star King capsized and sank just minutes later. The Sea Ballad another fishing vessel working in the area was able to rescue all five of the crewman from the water. The crew of the Star King was transferred to a motor life boat from Cape Disappointment and taken to shore in Ilwaco. Information about any injuries to the crew is not currently available. Coast Guard records indicate that the 55 foot Star King is owned by Kindred Fisheries Inc.
The fishing strike over the price of dungeness was crab had been settled ($ 2.875 per pound) and the fleet were to begin setting crab pots at 8:00 A. M. on Saturday. In many past cases overloading or improper loading of crab boats at the start of fishing seasons have lead to vessels sinking. For the safety of the crew of crab fishing vessels, detailed stability analysis should be performed on each crab boat to establish safe loading limits. Information about how the Star King was loaded was not reported or available at this time. Quick action by the crew in getting into their survival suits before the Star King sank undoubtedly saved these crewman’s lives. Without survival suits and flotation devices the survival time for a crewman in the winter ocean waters off the coast of Washington and Oregon can be just minutes depending on sea conditions.
In a second incident four miles off the coast of Long Beach, the Coast Guard escorted the crew of the fishing vessel Tracer back to shore on Sunday. The crew called for help after reporting they were taking on water with loss of engine power. With the assistance of pumps provided by the Coast Guard the Tracer was able to regain power and control the flooding. Weather conditions were reported as 5 foot swells with 30 mile per hour winds.
In other commercial fishing news from Alaska the crew of the Lady Gundy abandoned ship on January 6th and airlifted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter. The Lady Gundy reportedly had fuel filter problems and had lost power in 20-22 foot seas with 50 mile per hour winds. Loss of power in such conditions puts the vessel at high risk for sinking. Efforts to bring the Lady Gundy under tow are reportedly underway