On Saturday night, a 32-foot salmon fishing boat became trapped between two ships near Dillingham, Alaska, and her crew barely escaped before she was crushed, flipped and sunk.
At the time of the incident, the gillnetter Kristi was working the Bristol Bay opening, the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery. The Kristi lost power near the mouth of the Nushagak River, and a strong tidal current washed it between the hulls of the cargo ship Sohoh and the fish processing vessel Gordon Jensen, which were rafted up with Yokohama fenders.
The boat smashed between the two large ships as the current pushed it from side to side, and its bow got trapped by a Yokohama fender ahead. The crew's efforts to restart the engine were not successful, and the damage from contact with the steel hulls on either side began to take a toll.
"You could hear it crushing the boat in between... Aluminum is strong, but it's not stronger than steel and water with all that pressure," said crewmember Kayla Breeden, speaking to public radio affiliate KDLG.
The crew of the Gordon Jensen evacuated Breeden using a manbasket. The Kristi's two remaining crewmembers remained behind, and they managed to escape onto the Yokohama fender moments before the boat flipped end over end and sank.
While the boat was lost, none of the crew were injured, and the Gordon Jensen and Sohoh reported no significant damage. The Coast Guard will work with the Kristi's owners to determine if pollution mitigation or salvage are required.