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Coast Guard stands by as storm approaches

Coast Guard personnel are watching and waiting for the effects of a massive storm in the Bering Sea, where red king crab fishing was nearing its end for the season, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

"For us, it just means we need to be more vigilant and ready to respond. But it does look like a pretty nasty storm from what I've been told," said Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Sara Francis.

As the storm hit Western Alaska on Tuesday, the Coast Guard's 378-foot cutter Sherman was headed to a fishing vessel with engine trouble, Francis said. The Rebecca Irene lost power from one of its engines and was moving slowly toward port, she said.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was earlier moved from onboard the Sherman to Dutch Harbor due to rough seas, Francis said. "That is because, in bad weather, the ship is more difficult to launch from than land," she said.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter remained in Cold Bay, where a crew is stationed each year for the king crab season, Francis said. Coast Guard officers were discussing moving another Jayhawk to Western Alaska to deal with any additional storm-related emergencies, she said.

Crabbers had hauled about 97 percent of their allowed catch of red king crab by Monday, Francis said.

"There are still some boats out there. I imagine if they are out there, they won't stay out much longer, coming out of the weather, we hope," she said.

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