Updated 2/11/2016

A fire aboard the U.S.-flagged American Eagle fishing vessel forced 42 crew members to abandon ship Wednesday, federal authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene some 1,800 miles south of Hawaii, launching an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point that arrived at 5:10 p.m.

In an update, the agency says it has successfully coordinated the rescue of all 42 people.

“The captain of the American Eagle reported smoke had lessened from the disabled fishing vessel and boarded the vessel with eight crew members to suppress the fire. The captain reported the fire extinguished and the vessel to be in stable condition,” the Coast Guard said.

“The team of nine were able to restart the generator, reestablish electricity and maintain communication. The remaining 33 crew members were successfully recovered from their life rafts, work boats and skiff by the Fong Seong 888.”

A Tuvalu-flagged oil tanker called Fong Seong 888 was diverted to assist. It arrived around 5:30 p.m., the Coast Guard said in a news release.

American Eagle’s sister ship, American Victory, is expected to arrive in three days to relieve the Fong Seong 888.

The crew aboard the 258-foot American Eagle abandoned ship at 10 a.m. Wednesday into two life rafts, three work boats and one skiff, the release says. No injuries have been reported.

The American Eagle tuna fishing vessel caught fire Wednesday, forcing the crew to abandon ship.
The American Eagle tuna fishing vessel, seen here in 2012, caught fire Wednesday, forcing the crew to abandon ship. Courtesy: WCPFC

The Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received word of the fire at 8:38 a.m.

The American Eagle is a 13-year-old tuna purse seiner operated by master Joshua Bell. It was previously called the Fong Deong 168 and flew a Vanuatu flag, according to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

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