Coast Guard suspends search for 5 missing crew in Alaska

The U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for five crew members of a crab fishing vessel that sank New Year’s Eve off Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The search for five crew members of a sunken fishing vessel in Alaska has been suspended, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The decision came after the service said it had exhausted all leads and considered the chances for survival.

Two other crew members of the Scandies Rose were rescued after the 130-foot crab fishing vessel from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, sank New Year’s Eve, the Coast Guard said. The ship’s last known position was 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Kodiak Island.

"The decision to suspend an active search and rescue case is never easy, and it's only made after careful consideration of a myriad of factors,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. Matthew Bell said in a statement late Wednesday evening. "Our deepest condolences to the friends and families impacted by this tragedy."

The Scandies Rose was carrying a load of crabbing pots for the start of the winter season, Dan Mattsen, a partner in the boat that is managed by Seattle-Based Mattsen Management, told the Seattle Times.

The Coast Guard said the search for the five crew members lasted 20 hours and included four Jayhawk helicopters, two airplanes and a Coast Guard cutter.

Gerry Cobban Knagin, whose brother was the skipper on the Scandies Rose, said on Facebook that he and his son, David, was also on board.

Knagin of Kodiak, Alaska, told KTVA-TV that her brother Gary and his son were not among the people who had been rescued. She said she hoped he was “on one of the little Islands waiting for us!”

“We, the Cobban Family, extend our thanks and gratitude to all the Coast Guard men and women involved with the search and rescue of crew members on the F/V Scandies Rose,” she said on her Facebook page. “The horrendous weather made for an extremely tough search. A special Thank You goes out to the men answering my many questions and phone calls.”

The Scandies Rose sank at approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday with seven crew members aboard, the Coast Guard said. It received a mayday distress call and immediately commenced a rescue operation.

The rescue crews battled headwinds up to 60 mph and nearly no visibility when they arrived on scene about 2 a.m. Wednesday.

A faint light was seen in one life raft, but a medic lowered from a helicopter found it empty, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Another faint light was found about a half-mile away, where searchers found the two male survivors, ages 38 and 34, hypothermic but otherwise in good spirits.

The men told rescuers they were the only two who made it into life raft. While they were able to get into survivals suits, they didn’t know if the other five were able to do so, the newspaper reported.

Authorities have not released the names of the crew members, but Ashley Boggs of Peru, Indiana, told The Associated Press she was due to marry Scandies Rose crew member Brock Rainey after he returned from Alaska. She said she received a call from him on New Year’s Eve saying the conditions were bad, and then was informed by the Coast Guard that they suspended the search.

Boggs said Thursday that she hasn’t given up hope. “I’m just praying and hoping they find him on land or something,” she said in a phone interview. “I really felt like he was alive.”