Coast Guard rescues man from vessel fire near Chirikof Island, Alaska

June 4, 2024

personal locator beacon (PLB)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard rescued a mariner after his vessel caught fire near Chirikof Island Tuesday. 

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew landed and embarked the man on Chirikof Island at 1:11 p.m. and transported him with minimal injuries to awaiting emergency medical services at Air Station Kodiak. 

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard District 17 command center received a distress signal at 11 a.m. Tuesday from a personal locator beacon (PLB) on the 35-foot Australian-flagged sailing vessel. 

Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Western Alaska and U.S. Arctic pinpointed the location of the beacon, coordinated the launch of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew and diverted an in-flight HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Kodiak. 

The aircrews arrived on scene at 12:57 p.m. and located the owner on the shore of Chirikof Island, who claimed he escaped the burning vessel in his dinghy and beached it on the island. He was the only person on board. 

Included in the signal was a user-generated remark indicating that the operator was completing a multi-year sailing voyage around Alaska and a list of his proposed routes and ports of call. 

“The responsible actions of this mariner to properly register their device and include amplifying information about their voyage made it possible for the Coast Guard to immediately determine that the owner was in distress,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ben McIntyre-Coble, a search and rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard District 17. “We are glad that the Coast Guard was able to deliver urgently needed aid to his exact position, and we are grateful that he will be able to see his loved ones again.” 

The Coast Guard urges all mariners to equip and register a PLB or emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) on their vessel before any trip out to sea.

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