ASTORIA, Ore. — Coast Guard crews responded to a fishing vessel crew who abandoned ship in the early morning hours Monday near Florence.At approximately 1:50 a.m., Coast Guard watch standers at Sector North Bend received a distress call from the captain of fishing vessel Aquarius stating all crew members were abandoning ship. The vessel had struck the south jetty in the Siuslaw River Bar and was beginning to take on water.
Shortly thereafter, the 13th District command center received a signal from the vessels Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon [EPIRB]. An MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Air Facility Newport launched and arrived on scene at 2:50 a.m.Rescue crews from Station Siuslaw River and Station Umpqua River were also underway to assist with the search. Siuslaw Valley Fire Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance, along with members from Station Siuslaw River searched from shore. One responsive individual was located and rescued near the shoreline. He was able to confirm that two others were onboard the vessel with him when it sank.
The helicopter crew located a second unresponsive person and hoisted them into the aircraft. They were brought to awaiting EMS at Florence Municipal Airport.At approximately 7 a.m., the final person was located. With the assistance of the helicopter rescue swimmer, the unresponsive individual was brought aboard the Station Siuslaw River boat and then brought to awaiting EMS.
Conditions on scene were reported as 6 to 8-foot seas with occasional 10-foot waves, breaking at the bar.
“Station Siuslaw River is humbled by the citizens of Florence Oregon,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jay Nilles, Officer-in-Charge of Station Siuslaw River. “Together with our partner agencies we strive to prevent the loss of life for those who go to sea. This community is a family that embraces us, as we embrace everyone who crosses the bar for a living, or to recreate on the ocean. We are reminded during these times, that the ocean is unforgiving, and can be a treacherous place to work and recreate. We will continue to support our community and do all we can to keep those safe who go to sea for their livelihood or pleasure.”
“This highly unfortunate loss of two members of our close community deeply saddens all of us. We continue to stand by you in this time of need and healing. We could not continue to be strong and successful without our partnerships with Siuslaw Valley Fire Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance, who both assisted us in safely recovering one survivor from the tragic incident at sea, and getting him to a higher level of medical care at a rapid pace,” said Nilles.
“Without today’s technology of VHF-FM radio communications and an EPIRB, we would not have been able to quickly locate the scene of distress, followed by the location of survivors and victims. This highlights the need for life-saving equipment on our commercial fishing fleet as we continue our mission to make commercial fishing safer for everyone.”