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VIDEO: Rescue drama off Alaska

With winds as high as 120 mph and swells of 15 feet, four crewmen this week were forced to abandon their grounded 58-foot commercial fishing vessel and make their way to one of the Aleutian Islands to await rescue.“ ‘Demanding hoist’ takes on a whole new meaning in Category 3 hurricane winds,” said Comdr. Todd Trimpert, chief of response at the 17th Coast Guard District based in Juneau, Alaska.

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Icy Mist ran aground at around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The first helicopter dispatched, a Coast Guard HH-65, arrived at 6:40 a.m. but had to turn back because of the extreme conditions. The 878-foot Coast Guard cutter Munro, out of Kodiak, was also diverted to the scene, but conditions were so bad that it didn’t participate in the rescue, according to Petty Officer Kurt Fredrickson of the 17th District.

“Seas were so bad you could see the paint on the bottom of the cutter,” said Fredrickson, who filmed the rescue from the air. (See related video.)

By 9:30 a.m. a C-130 Hercules and two MH-60 Jayhawks arrived, but conditions made a hoist from the boat too dangerous. The four men made their way to Akutan Island, then climbed a hill to an area where a Jayhawk crew could perform an unobstructed rescue.

The fishermen were taken to Dutch Harbor; no injuries were reported. The cause of the grounding is yet to be determined.

Icy Mist still holds 60,000 pounds of Pacific cod, plus about 2,700 gallons of diesel, 150 gallons of lube oil, and 200 gallons of hydraulic oil. The Coast Guard, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the vessel owner plan to pump the fuel and oil into barrels for removal using a commercial helicopter, according to the Coast Guard.

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