Petersburg seiner sinks at Anita Bay; no serious injuries

The Petersburg-based seiner Pamela Rae took on water and rolled over in Anita Bay the morning of June 25, but the five people on board all made it safely off the vessel.

“When we first got there, the vessel was already underwater and appeared to be sitting on bottom,” said Jordan Buness, chief of the Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department, which responded to the call. “It was probably in less than 15 feet of water.”

Anita Bay, off the east side of Etolin Island, is about 16 miles south of downtown Wrangell.

“We found that everybody was already off the boat,” Buness said. “There was another Petersburg seiner that was on scene that stated he had witnessed the grounding of the vessel and kind of assisted with pulling the people off the boat and trying to get all the things situated. They got the seine skiff removed from the boat as the Pamela Rae was sinking.”

The U.S. Coast Guard received a call shortly before 10 a.m. June 25 that the seiner was sinking. The call came from a boat that had relayed a call from the fishing vessel Barbara, which was on the scene and providing Samaritan support, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Matt Naylor said.

Crew aboard a U.S. Forest Service Wrangell District vessel heard the radio call and headed to the area right away. The Forest Service then called Wrangell Search and Rescue, Buness explained.

“While I was talking to him, we were also dispatched via the Wrangell Police Department. We immediately started getting an airplane spooled up to head that way.” Wrangell Search and Rescue launched a plane with two EMTs and their medical equipment and arrived on scene at 10:19 a.m.

A deckhand from the Pamela Rae, Tavis Lemay, posted on social media the night after the sinking, “It took 1.5 minutes for the boat to fill up with water, and at 2 minutes it rolled over. Most of us were in the focsle but made it out safely. I made it out only in my underwear.”

He added, “We were quickly in the hands of the Wrangell Search and Rescue.”

One of the crew appeared to have minor injuries and was taken by floatplane for treatment at Wrangell Medical Center.

“The Forest Service law enforcement vessel with one of our first responders on board transported the remainder of the crew,” said Buness. “We had them back to Wrangell about 58 minutes after we received the first call.”

“After the situation was stabilized, the vessel was tied off to a series of net pens in Anita Bay where it remained partially sunk,” said the Coast Guard’s Naylor. “I believe as the tide came up it became further and further submerged.”

The net pens are used at the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association’s remote hatchery release site in Anita Bay. There were no salmon in the pens.

The vessel’s insurance company and the owner have been coordinating the response via Alaska Commercial Divers, said Naylor. The Coast Guard is monitoring for pollution control.

Divers arrived the day after the sinking, Naylor said. “They have already plugged all of the fuel tank vents, so there shouldn’t be any fuel leaking from the vessel,” said Naylor. “Some sheening has been observed ... there may still be some hydraulic oil, we don’t know for sure.”

“The goal will be to contain any further pollution found at the site and then refloat and defuel the vessel,” said Naylor.


Reader Comments(0)