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Reliant (#233869) (1835-1965), 82-foot fishing boat, a vessel of 15 gross tons, foundered 12 miles southwest of the west end of San Clemente Island on December 21, 1965. [MVUS 1968]

In the News~

December 22, 1965 [Independent, Long Beach]: “Fish Boat Sinking, Rescue of 9 Told. John Oates has spent the last 16 of his 65 years in the hard toil of the fishing trade, shipping as engineer of the Reliant, 82-foot vessel sailing out of San Pedro. Now the Reliant is gone—sunk in 640 fathoms deep off San Clemente Island—but when she foundered in predawn darkness Tuesday the engines Oates tended throughout the years ran long enough to save him and eight other men from death in the sea. Oates, of 3944 Alberan Ave., Long Beach, fought down the tears of sadness over the loss of his seagoing home Tuesday afternoon when he and the others were brought back to San Pedro by a rescue vessel. "I don't know what happened. She must have just opened at the seams. It just started flooding in through the stern," he mumbled as he recalled the end of the 30-year-old fishing boat. If those engines had quit two minutes earlier, we'd all have gone with her," said Nick Trutanich, of 555 16th St., San Pedro, who helped launch the Reliant's skiff that saved their lives. The wide, sturdy skiff is so heavy that it could not have been launched without engine power to operate the winches, said Trutanich, who reflected that he was skipper and owner of the Reliant for 10 years, but for the last five years sailed as one of the crew. Owner and captain when the Reliant foundered at 4:45 a.m. in the open ocean southwest of San Clemente Island was John Marovich, of 691 W. 22nd St., San Pedro, with his brother Ronnie, of the same address, among the crew. The other men aboard were Sam Ciolino, Viado Alafetich, George Vidovich, John Evosich and Steve Bunich, all of San Pedro. With winds and seas mercifully light, the survivors wallowed in the low, ungainly skiff as dawn came over the ocean. With daylight, Trutanich recalled, they saw other fishing boats pass, but they had only a flag to wave as a signal for help and their plight went unnoticed. Then, about 7 o'clock, they were spotted by the fishing boat Sunset, also out of San Pedro, which radioed the Coast Guard that she was picking up survivors about 12 miles southwest of the western tip of San Clemente. "It's a funny experience, I don't know what would have happened if the Sunset missed us. She was the last boat going by," said Trutanich. "I don't think we could have made it to San Clemente. We didn't have enough gas and the wind was starting to pick up." The Sunset took aboard the men and their lifesaving skiff, then set course for San Pedro. About 4 p.m. she arrived off the Long Beach Coast Guard base, hove to and put the skiff over the side again. The the Sunset swung out again on her course to the fishing grounds while the shipwrecked men, unharmed except for the strain and fatigue of their harrowing experience, sailed back to their berth in Fisherman's Harbor with the Reliant's skiff. Lost with the vessel was the cargo of 60 tons of mackerel they had harvested since they left San Pedro Sunday. Oates, who was a machinist ashore until he began going to sea in the Reliant, said the vessel could not have been saved. "You could see the water boiling in through the stern and the pumps would never have been able to handle it," said the engineer, who had made voyages up and down the west coast in the fishing boat, including one to Alaskan waters last year. "I loved that boat". I love the sea," he said as he trudged away from the docks.”