October 7, 2016
The Coast Guard has rescued five commercial fishermen from a sinking fish boat approximately 19 miles southwest of Gray Harbor, Washington. The crew of the fishing vessel Taplow radioed the Coast Guard that they were taking on water, their engine room was half-flooded and their pumps had stopped working. The crew was directed to activate their EPIRB, and the Coast Guard dispatched helicopters and motor lifeboats to aid in the rescue of the fishermen. The vessel continued to list and take on water despite pumps delivered by the Coast Guard, and the crew was advised to abandon ship. The vessel has reportedly sunk in 300 feet of water. The crew was brought to shore at Grays Harbor. No injuries were reported in the incident. Initial investigation shows that the Taplow is a 56-foot fishing vessel originally built in 1945 in the Sterling shipyards in Vancouver.
Friday, the Coast Guard rescued four other crewmen from sailing vessels off the Washington Coast. Two crewmen from the 45-foot sail boat Soteria were forced to abandon ship in 20-foot seas and 50 MPH winds. Remarkably, this vessel is reported to not have had survival suits on board, and the survival suits had to be provided by the Coast Guard before the crew could abandon ship and be safely rescued. In a separate incident 31 miles offshore from Willapa Bay, a 39-foot sailboat lost its mast in heavy weather. Rescue swimmers from the motor life rescued the operator of the vessel from the water.
The Coast Guard urges all vessels to have proper safety and survival gear aboard their vessels. Both of these cases demonstrate the importance of safety gear. Lt. Yates stated: “ At a minimum, people operating on the open ocean should have proper life jackets, immersion suits, adequate communications devices such as VHF radio, signaling devices.” Lt. Yates indicated that they were very fortunate in these two sailboat rescues to have such a positive outcome.