Western Venture Likely Sunk After Blaze

The U.S. Coast Guard says a 59-foot longliner that burned Sunday in the Bering Sea has sunk.

A Jayhawk helicopter crew Monday flew over the area where the Western Venture was last seen, about 70 miles west of Adak, according to Petty Officer Sara Mooers.

“We had good search conditions with good visibility and did not locate the vessel, so we presume it has likely sunk,” Mooers said.

She says the Coast Guard is working with the Western Venture’s owner to determine the cause of the fire.

The fuel tanks held up to 4,300 gallons, but Mooers says they weren’t full.

The updated figure for the fuel aboard is 2,000 gallons of diesel but it is unknown if any of that was consumed by the fire.  It’s likely it was,” Mooers said.

The Western Venture fishermen were uninjured and picked up by the fishing vessel Aleutian Beauty, which responded to a Coast Guard urgent marine broadcast. The Aleutian Beauty took the fishermen to Adak.

Mooers calls the case an excellent example of a fishing crew that was prepared for disaster.

“They had their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and they used it,” Mooers said. “They had their survival equipment and they used it, which allowed them to abandoned ship to their life raft safely and stay alive until rescuers could arrive on scene.”

She says the burning ship was quite far out in the Bering Sea, away from any land mass, and the vessel is now likely several hundred feet below the water’s surface.

Rosemarie Alexander is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.

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