A submerged boat at Harris Harbor activated an automatic emergency beacon, triggering a search and rescue deployment from local Coast Guard units on Jan. 23, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

A submerged boat at Harris Harbor activated an automatic emergency beacon, triggering a search and rescue deployment from local Coast Guard units on Jan. 23, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Emergency beacon triggers Coast Guard search downtown

A partially submerged boat’s beacon activated

An automatic emergency beacon coming from an unknown source triggered a Coast Guard search of Gastineau Channel Thursday morning.

The Coast Guard received a signal from an unregistered emergency position-indicating radio beacon at about 8 a.m. and were able to pinpoint the source of the signal: a partially submerged boat in Harris Harbor.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross, a public affairs specialist, said it appeared the boat sank without the boat’s owner present. No one was injured, she said.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk and small boat crew traced the signal to its source and confirmed the beacon came from the boat.

The harbor has contacted the boat’s owner, and should be able to refloat the boat without too much difficulty, personnel in the harbor office said. It’s not known what caused the boat to sink.

Some EPIRBs are triggered by being submerged in a set amount of water, others manually. The device sends a signal to a satellite network, which allows rescuers to triangulate the area of the emergency and dispatch responders.

The City and Borough of Juneau published a public safety announcement after the search, urging boat owners to clear snow from their boats, as the extra weight can cause them to sink.

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