The Coast Guard was called into action to rescue a commercial fishing vessel after it ran aground near Bodega Bay. According to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard, the distress call from the captain of the 58-foot Aleutian Storm came late Friday night, prompting an urgent response from multiple agencies. The vessel was stranded within the confines of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, about two miles from the bay itself.
The Coast Guard's watchstanders at Sector San Francisco were contacted via VHF-FM radio by the vessel's captain, who reported the grounding and requested assistance to help unground the boat. The captain also assured that all four crew members onboard were not injuried and were equipped with immersion suits. The response team comprised a boat crew from Station Bodega Bay and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station San Francisco. Aid was also rendered by the Sonoma County Fire Department and a helicopter aircrew from the California Highway Patrol. In a turn to save themselves, the crew members managed to safely swim to shore after their own efforts to free the vessel fell short.
Following the incident, the Coast Guard has established a Unified Command to oversee the situation. Partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California State Parks, Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, and the vessel's captain, they are ensuring that the situation is being closely monitored. The focal point of their efforts now shifts to environmental protection as they begin to assess the potential risk of pollution to the marine sanctuary.
The Aleutian Storm, with a fuel capacity of 3,400 gallons, was reported to still have approximately 1,500 gallons of diesel on board. The Unified Command is now closely working to assess damages and to quickly plan lightering and salvage operations. With the risk of a pollution incident looming over the area, the grounding of the Aleutian Storm serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of our coastal ecosystems and the necessity for prompt and effective response to maritime emergencies.