After an effort that spanned 1,400 square miles over 20 hours, the Coast Guard has suspended its search for survivors from a crabbing boat that sank in gale-force winds in the Gulf of Alaska on New Year's Eve. The Coast Guard says two "extremely hypothermic" members of the Scandies Rose's seven-man crew were found in a life raft around 2am Wednesday, almost four hours after a mayday call was received from the boat, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Rescuers say they found an empty life raft but no other survivors amid high swells and almost zero visibility in waters. The two rescued men were wearing survival suits. They said they were the only ones who had been able to make it to a raft. The men were hospitalized in stable condition.
The Coast Guard said it suspended the search, which involved four helicopter crews, two airplane crews, and a Coast Guard cutter, after "careful consideration of survival probability." "Pretty much every variable weighed against" finding the two who were rescued, says Lt. Kevin Knaup, co-pilot of a plane used in the rescue. The boat was on its way to the Bering Sea for a new season of crab fishing. The crew was highly experienced, the Seattle Times reports. "The Scandies is a 130-foot battle ax, and always has been well respected," says crabber Dylan Hatfield. The Alaska crab fishery, documented in The Deadliest Catch, has introduced numerous safety improvements over the last 20 years and there were no fatalities for an 11-year period before a fishing vessel and its six crew disappeared in early 2017. (Read more Alaska stories.)