Coast Guard rescues 18 from boat run aground near Valdez

Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard rescued 18 people from a 75-foot passenger vessel that ran aground near the Columbia Glacier on Thursday.

At 4:35 p.m., Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center watchstanders overheard the ferry Aurora communicating with a vessel in distress. The watchstanders relayed communications through the crew of the Aurora and determined that Lu-Lu Belle, a glacier tour boat, had run aground in Columbia Bay with 19 people aboard.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Air Station Kodiak, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Aviation Support Facility Cordova, and a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium crew from Station Valdez to respond to the situation.

Lu-Lu Belle became grounded near the glacier, and the passengers disembarked to affect rescue. The Coast Guard aircrews landed next to the vessel and safely transported all the passengers and crew to the Valdez airport by approximately 9:25 p.m. No injuries were reported.

“I want to commend all of our teams on their swift and decisive actions resulting in a flawless rescue last night,” said Coast Guard Cmdr. Scott Farr, search-and-rescue mission coordinator at Sector Anchorage. “The safe and effective rescue of every passenger on the Lu-Lu Belle is a testament to the attentiveness of our watch standers and readiness of our response crews from all of our units. We are also extremely grateful to the crew of the Aurora and the City of Valdez Fire Department, Building Maintenance, and Harbor staff, whose efforts were instrumental in the success of this case.”

The captain of the Lu-Lu Belle stayed aboard overnight and was able to refloat the vessel at high tide. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez is working with the crew of Lu-Lu Belle to conduct salvage operations and investigate the cause of the marine casualty.


  1. Capt. Fred is a good guy, and the Lu Lu Belle is a great boat. Tides are extreme there, and the effort that Fred goes to to get visitors into the interesting places in PWS makes an incident like this inevitable. Someone might have looked away from the depth gauge at just the wrong moment. No big deal. They would have been going really slow there. Visitors got a great ride on a beautiful Coast Guard helicopter!

    • If he was the captain when we were at the sea lion rookery then he his a bad captain as we was within 50 feet of the sea lions and the baby’s were swimming from his bow as he never stoped. He was harassing the sea life for the tourist.

  2. We took this cruise last week during our visit to Valdez. I know Captain Fred is very experienced at the helm of his ship but felt he took risks that made us a tad uncomfortable. Glad we made it back safely.

    • Yes he is real good. Running a boat aground why don’t you fly with him somewhere better yet let’s give him command of an oil tanker. He is a dangerous captain who ran aground risking lives and harasses the sea lions.

  3. I’ve boated in that area for many years and the marine
    charts are not very accurate in a lot of areas across much
    of PWS. I’ve managed to hit two uncharted rocks.

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