Fisherman, Dogs Rescued In Freshwater Bay After Boat Issue

Shown is Robert Johnson and his two dogs who were rescued by a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka aircrew after his vessel sank in Freshwater Bay, Alaska, Oct. 19, 2022. Johnson’s vessel is a 33-foot-long fishing vessel named The Bailey Bay. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

The following is courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard Alaska District 17:

KODIAK, Alaska — A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka aircrew rescued a man and his two dogs after his fishing vessel sank in Freshwater Bay, southeast of Hoonah, Alaska, on Wednesday.

The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew retrieved the individual and his two dogs from shore and safely transported them to awaiting emergency medical services personnel in Juneau. 

At 4:48 a.m., Coast Guard Sector Juneau Command Center watchstanders overheard a mayday call from a mariner, who stated that his vessel was going down in the vicinity of Freshwater Bay. The individual confirmed that he and his two dogs were the only ones aboard the vessel before transmission ceased. Coast Guard personnel from Station Juneau, Air Station Sitka and the Coast Guard Cutter Douglas Denman launched to respond to the incident. 

An Air Station Sitka pilot aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter locates an individual stranded on shore near Freshwater Bay, Alaska, Oct. 19, 2022. The individual and his two dogs swam to shore after his vessel capsized. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo. 

Several vessels in the area heard the transmission and provided their antennae height and latitude and longitude coordinates to the Coast Guard crews, which were used to help refine a search area.

The aircrew arrived on scene at 7:56 a.m. and easily located the individual on shore, who was found wearing a survival suit and signaling the helo with a flare.

“This demonstrates the importance of coordination and communication between our Coast Guard crews and the local Alaskan vessels who were able to assist us in locating and rescuing the mariner,” said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Trevor Layman, Sector Juneau Command Center. “The mariner was well prepared for an emergency and utilized a flare to direct us to his specific location. All these factors allowed us to do our job in an efficient manner to bring the man and his dogs safely home.”

A sunken vessel is shown in Freshwater Bay, Alaska, after the vessel capsized with the owner and his two dogs aboard, Oct. 19, 2022. An Air Station Sitka aircrew rescued the man and his dogs from a nearby shore after he signaled the helo with a flare. U.S. Coast Guard courtesy photo.

The Bailey Bay, a 33-foot fiberglass fishing vessel, was located by the crew of the Douglas Denman, who arrived on scene and found it submerged. The Douglas Denman launched a small boat crew to inspect the wreckage and reported that the vessel was producing a small sheen.

The vessel reportedly has less than 75 gallons of diesel fuel onboard and is currently sunk in 30 feet of water with minimal sheening. The vessel owner plans to conduct salvage operations. 

The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.