British Columbia

2 dead, 1 rescued after Canadian fishing boat sinks off Washington coast

CBC News has learned two people died after a Canadian fishing vessel sank off the coast of Washington state on Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard said a third person on board was rescued and is in good health.

U.S. Coast Guard says survivor is a Canadian found in good health in lifeboat

In a statement, the U.S. Coast Guard said air crews from Oregon and California searched for fishers from Canada after their vessel radioed a distress call early Tuesday morning off the coast of Washington state. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Two people died after a Canadian fishing vessel sank off the coast of Washington state on Tuesday, CBC News has learned.

The U.S. Coast Guard said a third person on board was rescued and is in good health.

A BC Coroners Service spokesperson confirmed that two people died and that both people were Canadian.

In a statement, the coast guard said it received a radio distress call around 2 a.m. PT on Tuesday from the 20-metre commercial fishing vessel, Arctic Fox II, which was about 135 kilometres off Cape Flattery in Washington state at the time.

Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States. It is just south of Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, across the Salish Sea.

The caller said the vessel was taking on water, and three people aboard planned to abandon ship. The caller reported they were wearing survival suits — floating suits that help delay the onset of hypothermia.

The coast guard deployed a helicopter from Oregon and a plane from California to search for the crew. Once the aircrew arrived, the coast guard said, they immediately spotted a lifeboat with one survivor aboard. He was hoisted into the helicopter.

Petty Officer Michael Clark, a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard, said the survivor, a Canadian, was taken to a coast guard base at Neah Bay, close to Cape Flattery, where he was assessed and found to be in good health.

Clark said U.S. Customs and Border Protection is facilitating his return to Canada.

Lt.-Cmdr. Tony Wright with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria said the agency sent a helicopter and a plane to assist, but both had returned to the Comox airbase by Tuesday afternoon.

Clark said the boat has now sunk in international waters. Canadian authorities will likely lead the investigation, and the U.S. will assist. 

Transport Canada lists a fishing boat named Arctic Fox II in its vessel registration system.

According to the federal registry, Arctic Fox II is a wood-built boat constructed in Scotland in 1947. Victoria is its port of registry.

Teague Fishing Corp. of Shawnigan Lake, B.C. owns the boat. In a email statement on Wednesday, the company wrote that it is co-operating with the ongoing investigation.

"We are grieving the loss of crew aboard the vessel and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families," it said.

The coroner said both bodies have been flown to Victoria and next of kin have been notified.

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