A Coast Guard helicopter demonstrates a water rescue during Juneau’s Maritime Festival. The Coast Guard is investigating a series of three vessels sinking across Southeast Alaska within an approximately twelve-hour period in late June. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

A Coast Guard helicopter demonstrates a water rescue during Juneau’s Maritime Festival. The Coast Guard is investigating a series of three vessels sinking across Southeast Alaska within an approximately twelve-hour period in late June. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Coast Guard investigating multiple sinkings from last week

No casualties were reported, and owners are working to refloat one of the vessels.

While vessels sinking isn’t uncommon in any part of the world as heavily traveled by sea as Southeast Alaska, having three vessels go down in three separate places within 12 hours is more anomalous.

Three vessels scattered throughout Southeast sank between the afternoon of June 29 and the morning of June 30. No casualties ensued, according to the Coast Guard.

“It is rare to have three similar cases such as vessel sinkings within such a short period of time,” said Lt. Chad Coppin, chief of the Inspections Division for Coast Guard Sector Juneau, in an email. “We have not had a report of a vessel sinking in the past week since these three occurred.”

[Sector Juneau holds change of command ceremony]

The first report was of a 20-foot skiff near Port Protection with three people on board that sank in more than 500 feet of water, according to a Coast Guard social media post. All aboard were rescued by another vessel.

The second was a 29-foot commercial fishing vessel that sank a quarter mile south of Shelter Island in roughly 27 feet of water, according to the post.

[Fishing vessel sinks near Shelter Island]

“There were three people onboard the boat that sank south of Shelter Island, all recovered quickly by a vessel nearby,” Coppin said. “The owner’s current plan is to raise and salvage the vessel.”

The third was a vessel moored alongside a pier that sank in high winds while it was unattended, Coppin said. So far, none of the vessels appear to be actively leaking oil or fuel.

“All of our sources report no signs of sheening from any of the sites,” Coppin said. “Sector Juneau and [Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation] are currently overseeing the response efforts and are ready to step in when needed.”

The investigation into the causes of the sinkings is ongoing, Coppin said.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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