In separate incidents, within hours of one another, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak received distress calls from two fishing vessels, first from 58-foot F/V KIMBERLY, and later from 68-foot F/V HERITAGE.
The night of January 24, Juneau-based KIMBERLY ran aground in Portage Bay. Winds were reported to be a steady 60 knots with 90-knot gusts, with 16-foot seas, precluding the immediate rescue of the four-member crew by a first Coast Guard helicopter. A second helicopter was sent out early the next morning.
January 25 at 6:30 a.m., F/V HERITAGE, which was sinking south of Kodiak, sent her distress call. That second helicopter, which had been bound for KIMBERLY, was diverted directly to the seven-person HERITAGE crew, and a third helicopter was deployed to KIMBERLY to hoist that crew to safety. At HERITAGE, the Coast Guard airlifted two of the crew from the water, while Good Samaritan vessel TUXEDNI picked up the remaining five HERITAGE members from their life raft.
The causes of these incidents are not yet known, but are under investigation. All eleven crewmembers were wearing survival suits and both vessels were equipped with life rafts that were put to timely use; both crews were said to be in good to fair condition at the time of their rescues because of their preparedness.