Search Called Off for Nine Missing From Sunken Fishing Trawler
BRIAN S. AKRE
Mar. 24, 1990
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ The Coast Guard on Friday suspended its search for the bodies of nine men presumed drowned after their fishing trawler capsized and sank in the frigid Bering Sea.
Fishing vessels rescued 22 crew members who had abandoned the sinking ship on life boats. They were reported in good condition aboard a trawler that was taking them to Dutch Harbor, about 250 miles southeast of the accident site.
The nine, including a federal fisheries observer, were lost Thursday when the 162-foot Aleutian Enterprise sank, according to the Coast Guard, which said there was little chance their bodies would be found.
''We had a very good search yesterday,'' Lt. Brian Flory said Friday in Juneau. ''We think we would have found anyone who was afloat.''
Several fishing vessels remained in the area to look for bodies Friday, but they also gave up, said Dan Roberts, executive vice president of Arctic Alaska Fisheries Corp. in Seattle, which managed the Aleutian Enterprise.
''The skippers felt there just wasn't any sense in continuing the search any longer,'' Roberts said.
The cause of the sinking was unknown, said Christopher Haley, a Coast Guard spokesman. Weather was reported to be fair when the early afternoon accident occurred.
''We haven't had enough information from the survivors yet,'' Haley said.
The Coast Guard will convene a formal board of investigation into the accident at noon Saturday in Anchorage, Haley said. Roberts said some survivors and company officials would attend, weather permitting.
The Seattle-based ship sank about 60 miles south of the Pribilof Islands town of St. Paul, which is north of the Aleutian Islands chain and southwest of the Alaska mainland.
Roberts agreed that continuing the search would be useless.
''The boats searched for seven hours yesterday, they searched all night. With the water temperature 32 to 34 degrees, it's doubtful they would have survived,'' he said.
The Coast Guard earlier reported that 10 people were missing, but the figure was revised to nine after officials discovered one crewman apparently had stayed off the ship at its last port.
None of the crew was wearing survival suits, said Haley. Coast Guard officials said a person couldn't survive the frigid water more than 30 minutes without insulated survival gear.
The survivors were transferred to the Bristol Enterprise, which wasn't expected to arrive in Dutch Harbor until late Friday, Haley said.
From there they were to be flown home as soon as possible, weather permitting, Roberts said. Most of the crew members are from the Seattle area, he said.
Lt. Cmdr. Richard Blaze of the Coast Guard's licensing and inspection office in Anchorage said the agency has no file on the Aleutian Enterprise. Nor does another inspection agency, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said Victor Brandt of the OSHA office in Anchorage.
The Aleutian Enterprise was part of a fleet of so-called factory trawlers that fish for cod and pollock in the remote Bering Sea between Alaska and the Soviet Union. The large vessels catch the bottom fish, process and freeze them on board.
The vessel is owned by Aleutian Enterprise Ltd., a California-based partnership that contracts with Arctic Alaska for management and marketing services, Roberts said.
The company the identitified the nine men presumed drowned as Joseph J. Alaimo, 45, Yakima, Wash.; Javier Martin V. Castro, 27, Seattle; Robert W. Davis, 26, Renton, Wash.; John A. Dieterich, 31, Seattle, chief engineer; Jeffrey A. Houston, 21, Warren, Ore.; David J. Jefferies, 19, Fontana, Calif.; Nello Marciel, 55, San Diego; Robert McCord, 35, Englewood, Colo., fisheries observer; Matthew J. Schneider, 22, Issaquah, Wash., foreman.