Crews Remove Fuel From Grounded F/V Arctic Hunter

Monday, November 04 2013

Credit: Jennifer Shockley

Updated, 5:30 p.m. Monday: The fishing vessel Arctic Hunter weathered a string of storms over the weekend. The 93-foot crab boat is resting on the rocks outside Morris Cove, where it's been partially submerged since Friday.

Resolve-Magone Marine Services had a tough time reaching the vessel due to stormy weather, but crews made it to the scene on Saturday and have since pumped out 9,000 gallons of fuel and hydraulic oil.

They still have to empty another tank, which is below the water line. Coast Guard public affairs officer Shawn Eggert says that tank contains 2500 to 2800 gallons of fuel. He says salvagers will have to raise the 93-foot crab boat in order to access the hold – but they haven’t been able to do so today due to bad weather.

There were reports of an oil sheen soon after the Arctic Hunter first ran aground, but Eggert says the Coast Guard has seen no signs of a spill. They conducted a flyover of the site on Saturday.

Jim Stone is a co-owner of the vessel, which is based out of Kodiak. He says they’re hopeful salvagers will be able to get the Arctic Hunter off the rocks in one piece. And he says they’re optimistic that insurance will cover the damage.

"It's our baby, our pride and joy, and we want to get it off of there with as minimal oil release as possible," he says.

In the meantime, the Coast Guard is investigating what caused the accident.

“Our understanding right now is that the ship’s master was asleep at the wheel when the vessel initially ran aground,” Eggert says.

The Arctic Hunter grounded outside Unalaska early Friday morning and began taking on water. The crew issued a distress call around 4 a.m. They abandoned ship and were picked up by the good Samaritan fishing vessel Saga.

After that, the Arctic Hunter dislodged and drifted five miles down the coast outside of Morris Cove, where it’s stuck now.

Unalaska public safety officers and Coast Guard personnel met up with the Saga around 7 a.m. Public safety director Jamie Sunderland says they wanted to speak with the Arctic Hunter crew.

Police administered a field sobriety test to the skipper, which he passed. But Sunderland says the skipper failed another exam.

“He provided a sample for the [portable breathalyzer test] that would have been slightly over the allowed limit,” Sunderland says.

The skipper allegedly told police that he had a drink after the accident -- not before. Sunderland says the crew corroborated that account.

Sunderland says the Coast Guard will handle any further investigation.

crab fisherman on Tuesday, November 05 2013:

I was crab fisherman in the 1980's - 1990's. Our Captain and crew followed this one; Do not leave port go fishing on Fridays.

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