Search efforts for Roland Briggs suspended Saturday, says Coast Guard

Oct 15, 2015

This story is developing and will be updated.

UPDATE, Monday 11 a.m.:

On Saturday the Coast Guard suspended its search for 55-year-old Roland Briggs of Ugashik. 

Roland Briggs, 55, is a lifelong resident of the Lake and Peninsula Borough. He is a commercial setnetter in Ugashik, and has been an active in the Bristol Bay fishing industry. On Thursday Briggs was reported overdue on a trip from Egegik to Ugashik. The Coast Guard said that some debris consistent with his vessel was spotted Thursday evening. On Saturday, the search was suspended.
Credit courtesy Lake and Peninsula Borough

Briggs left Egegik for Ugashik Tuesday and was expected in Ugashik Wednesday afternoon. The Coast Guard, state troopers, and volunteers searched by air and water Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday before the effort was suspended.

“The Coast Guard, who was leading the efforts, called off the search after 54 hours on Saturday," said Petty Officer Grant Devuyst, a spokesman for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. "We call it a suspension because we're able to re-open any search if any new information does arise.”

Some debris believed to have come from Briggs' vessel was spotted by the Coast Guard Thursday evening, but no further trace of that debris or the vessel has turned up.

Briggs was the only person onboard the 43-foot landing craft vessel Kitavik, and was last seen getting fuel in Egegik Tuesday. Troopers say he spoke with his wife during the trip back to Ugashik, telling her the trip was going slower than expected. Vicki Briggs reported Roland as overdue Thursday morning.

According to the Coast Guard, the search covered a total of 8,000 square miles. An HC-130, MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, the Cutter Munro, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from the Munro were all involved over the 54 hour effort.

UPDATE, Friday 11 a.m.:

Debris spotted Thursday night matches the description of gear from the vessel reported missing earlier that day, the Coast Guard says, and the search is ongoing for the Kitavik, which was reported missing between Egegik and Ugashik.

The Alaska State Troopers say about half a dozen planes and boats are searching for the missing vessel in the Ugashik Bay area.

Troopers say Roland Briggs, 55, of Ugashik, was last seen at about 1 p.m. Tuesday leaving Egegik with a delivery of fuel, and was reported missing at 7:40 a.m. Thursday. Troopers says his landing craft is a 43-foot vessel with a green hull, white cabin and gray deck. The Coast Guard has had a C-130, two helicopters and the Cutter Monroe searching; Alaska Wildlife Troopers have used aircraft to search, and there is also a private plane searching.

Sunrise over the outlet of Lower Ugashik Lake Sunday morning. "Mourning the loss of our friend Roland Briggs," wrote Bob and Carol Dreeszen, who submitted this photo.
Credit Bob and Carol Dreeszen

Thursday:

The Coast Guard is searching by air for an overdue vessel between Egegik and Ugashik, KDLG News learned Thursday morning.

It is believed that Roland Briggs, 55, of Ugashik, is the only person onboard the 50' landing craft vessel Kitavik. According to some residents KDLG News spoke with by phone Thursday, Briggs was bringing a delivery of fuel from Egegik back to Pilot Point and Ugashik, a trip which should have taken around 18 hours.

He left Egegik Tuesday and was expected in Ugashik by Wednesday afternoon, said the Coast Guard. The overdue report was called in Thursday morning around 8:30 a.m.

"Once we received the report, we launched a C-130 airplane crew out of Air Station Kodiak and they're currently commencing a search in the last known area of the boater," said Coast Guard Petty Office Kelly Parker.

Briggs is a lifelong resident of the area and has commercially fished in Ugashik for nearly five decades. He has run several businesses and has been active in the fishing industry and the Lake and Peninsula Borough.