One body recovered in area where fishing boat disappeared

Posted: Tuesday, April 03, 2001

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A fishing vessel with 15 people on board is believed to have sunk in the Bering Sea in what would be one of the worst fishing disasters in Alaska waters in nearly two decades.

The body of one crew member from the Arctic Rose was recovered Monday. Officials did not identify the victim.

''The (icebreaker) Polar Star is on-scene, conducting a search this morning, as well as the Boutwell, a cutter,'' said Coast Guard Petty Officer George Keaney, from Juneau. ''... It's still blowing -- 40 knot winds and 20-foot waves and heavy, freezing spray.

''But we've searched in worse (weather),'' Keaney said.

A C-130 transport plane searched the area until about 10:30 p.m. Monday, when it had to return to Kodiak for fuel, he said.

Searchers so far have spotted an oily sheen, an empty life raft and six survival suits in the area, about 775 miles southwest of Anchorage, said Coast Guard Lt. Stacie Fain.

A sister ship, the Alaskan Rose, recovered the body Monday. Crew members spotted a second body in a survival suit, but weather prevented its recovery, the Coast Guard's Keaney said.

The Arctic Rose went down early Monday. The Coast Guard picked up an emergency locator beacon signal from the 92-foot vessel at 3:30 a.m. There was no distress call from the crew before the signal, Coast Guard spokeswoman Marshalena Delaney said.

The crew of the Arctic Rose had checked in with the Alaskan Rose on Sunday night. They had been working about seven miles apart.

''That was the last time anybody had heard from them,'' Delaney said.

At the time, winds were reported to be 25 knots with six- to eight-foot seas, which are not unusual in the Bering Sea.

The Arctic Rose, owned by Arctic Sole Seafoods of Seattle, was fishing for rock sole and other fish, said John Casperson, the company's vice president.

''We know the Coast Guard is searching. We're just hoping and praying they'll turn something up,'' Casperson said.

A routine safety check of the Arctic Rose on Feb. 25 turned up no violations.

The worst fishing disaster in Alaska waters happened Jan. 5, 1982, when the Japanese trawler Akebono Maru capsized 50 miles north of Adak, killing 32 people.

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