The U.S. Coast Guard was called into action early Saturday morning, responding to a fishing vessel in distress off the stormy and rugged Oregon Coast.
According to an Associated Press report, a mayday call was received by the Coast Guard around 4:20 a.m. from a crew in trouble. The crew of five were aboard the 75-foot crab fishing boat, Blazer, and reported they were taking on water while fishing about eight miles west of Siletz Bay, off the north-western coast of Oregon.
The Blazer was apparently taking on water fast, as her crew reported back to the Coast Guard 10 minutes later to let them know they were getting into their cold water immersion suits and launching a life raft.
The Coast Guard deployed both a helicopter and boat to the potentially deadly scene. The Oregon Coast is notorious for its high, pounding surf, rough seas, and cold water.
The crew on the Coast Guard helicopter located the crippled Blazer and the deployed life raft in the stormy 5 a.m. gloom, and began initiating a rescue.
Coast Guard rescue crews pulled three of the foundering Blazer's crew up into their hovering helicopter, while the remaining two fisherman were pulled to safety aboard the Coast Guard boat. Three of the Blazer crew were treated for minor injuries, but obviously glad not to go down with the Blazer, joining other lost mariners in Davy Jones's locker off the Oregon coast.
Three Sheets Northwest, via a Coast Guard press release, reports that the rescue helicopter was an MH-65 Dolphin operating out of Newport, Oregon, and the Coast Guard rescue boat a 47-foot Motor Life Boat from Coast Guard Station Depoe Bay, Oregon.
Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Blanchard, search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector North Bend, Oregon, praised the crew of the Blazer for being prepared for such an emergency.
"The preparedness of the crew of Blazer was exceptional. They recognized when they needed help and took the steps necessary to put themselves in a position where we could quickly and safely bring them home to their families. Having the proper safety equipment and training to use it is essential for all mariners, especially commercial fishermen of the Pacific Northwest."
According to the Coast Guard, the Blazer ultimately succumbed to the sea and sank in an area believed to be about 420 feet deep. The crab fishing boat reportedly also had 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel in her holds. The Coast Guard will continue investigating.
[Image via U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, Newport, OR]