November 20, 2014

Injured Crewman Medevaced from Cargo Ship MYKONOS SEAS off Alaska

A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter medevaced an injured crewman from the bulk carrier MYKONOS SEAS located approximately 75 miles southeast of Cold Bay, AK on November 16, 2014. According to the 17th District Coast Guard Command Center, they received a call from the carrier’s crew requesting medical help for the injured crewmember. The duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac, and the helicopter crew flew out of Cold Bay for the rescue mission. They flew 75 miles to the ship, hoisted the crewmember aboard the helicopter while grappling with 11 mph winds and 3' seas, and flew back to Cold Bay where the crewman received medical care. He ultimately was flown to Anchorage for additional medical assistance.

75 miles southeast of the tip of Alaska is in the far reaches of the Bering Sea. We are fortunate that the Coast Guard is equipped with operating locations and equipment that can quickly respond to emergencies near and far. Beard Stacey & Jacobsen LLP is one of the most experienced law firms in the country in handling crew member injuries aboard American ships in the Bering Sea. For more information, view our firm website and find Maritime Injury Claims.

November 19, 2014

Vessel POLAR BEAR Grounded near Kodiak, AK - Intoxicated Captain Arrested

A 25-year-old crew member on the vessel POLAR BEAR called 911 to report that the highly intoxicated captain had run the landing craft aground on Gull Island, a half-mile or so away from the Kodiak, AK harbor. The Kodiak police reported receiving the 911 call on November 16, 2014 and arrived at the scene of the grounding with assistance from the Kodiak Harbor Master's Office. They found Edward Dyer, 50, aboard and highly intoxicated. Police escorted Dyer and Jeffrey Barrowcliff, the crewmember, back to land. Dyer was charged with driving under the influence, reckless endangerment, and fourth-degree assault.

Peter Schwarz, the president of POLAR BEAR operator Alaska Marine Transport and Salvage, said Dyer is no long employed by his company. "I had a skipper here who lost control over himself," Schwarz said. "He looked always sober when I saw him, but he has this problem drinking." According to KTUU News, Schwarz said Dyer was drunk and belligerent, scaring Barrowcliff to the point that he locked himself inside a compartment, called police, and waited 30 minutes for the police to arrive.

There were no visible signs of damage to the landing craft and no leakage of fuel at the time of reporting.

November 13, 2014

Disabled Ferry TACOMA's Power Loss Caused by Power Surge from Ship Design Flaw

Why did the ferry TACOMA lose power during a routine run from Seattle to Bainbridge Island last summer?

"We have found the problem, and we have identified a fix for it," said Lynne Griffith, Assistant Secretary for the state Ferries Division.

A power surge caused by a design flaw destroyed the power cables in the ferry's circuit breaker control, causing the ship to lose power as it approached Bainbridge Island on July 29, 2014.

Mark Nitchman, staff chief engineer of the TACOMA, said it was the first time in the ferry's 17-year history that such a surge had been seen.

The ferry MV TACOMA lost power as it headed towards Bainbridge Island with more than 400 passengers aboard. The crew dropped anchor, the first time in 30 years for a WA state ferry, so the ferry wouldn't drift with the current and hit the island. The tugboat LINDSEY FOSS towed the TACOMA to Eagle Harbor.

"This was not caused by the way we operate the vessel, nor was it related to any of our maintenance practices," Griffin said.

A minor design modification will be needed on the TACOMA and its sister ships in the Jumbo Mark II Class to include additional redundancies, Griffith said, so the problem doesn't happen again. She also said that the technology to find this flaw didn't exist when the ferry was built in 1997.

The repair plan has been submitted to the Coast Guard, who must approve it before repairs can be made. WA State ferry officials estimate that the repairs on the TACOMA and sister ships will cost $1.8 million, and the TACOMA might not be back to work until Spring 2015.

November 12, 2014

Cargo Ship RAINBOW QUEST Clips Brooklyn Bridge, New York City

The tide was high on the East River as it flowed underneath New York City's Brooklyn Bridge the evening of November 7, 2014. At about 10:30 pm, the 590 foot cargo ship RAINBOW QUEST headed down the East River on its way towards open sea. As the ship passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, its tallest mast clipped the bottom of the famous bridge linking Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Ali Flockerzi said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had already scheduled a routine closure of the bridge late Friday and inspected the span when it was closed. She said there was no damage to the bridge. Can you imagine the nightmare if the RAINBOW QUEST had caused extensive damage to the bridge and/or the ship? Any boat must know its height requirements and high tide information for passing under bridges. Luckily no one was injured and no damage was done.

November 10, 2014

POST-TROPICAL NURI / BERING SEA STORM ONE OF STRONGEST CYCLONES ON RECORD

On Friday, November 7, 2014, the National Weather Service Ocean Prediction Center recorded the central pressure of post-tropical Nuri at 924 mb over the Bering Sea. On November 9, however, Hurricane Central reported that the storm's lowest pressure was 929.8. For reference, Hurricane Andrew's pressure was 922, and Hurricane Sandy's was 940. Whether the pressure was 924 or 929, the post-tropical Nuri/Bering Sea storm is one of the largest Northern Pacific storms on record.

From north to south, the massive storm covered 2000 miles from 68 N latitude to 40 N latitude. Hurricane force winds with gusts of 96 mph and 30-50' waves were recorded. The Coast Guard in Kodiak reported that no damage or distress calls had been received as of 8 a.m. Saturday. That good news is probably because the storm was much publicized and because most of the storm hit open sea. Most fishing boats headed into Dutch Harbor and cargo ships gave the area a wide berth to avoid the storm. Small villages such as Adak and Attu on the southwestern end of the Aleutian chain are not strangers to strong storms and effectively battened down the hatches against the storm.

Did any "Deadliest Catch" boats brave the storm? We shall see.

November 6, 2014

COAST GUARD READYING FOR SEVERE WEATHER IN WESTERN ALASKA

The Coast Guard is preparing for an incoming severe weather system to hit the Bering Sea and Western Alaska on Friday, November 7, 2014. The storm, remnants of Super Typhoon Nuri merging with a cold polar front, could bring fierce winds between 50 and 80 mph and massive waves in excess of 40 feet.

The Coast Guard has already flown a Jayhawk helicopter crew from Kodiak to an operating location in Cold Bay. They also notified the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro, patrolling near Dutch Harbor, with a Dolphin helicopter crew to stand by to assist fishing vessels, crew, and citizens.

“Our highest priority is protecting the safety of life at sea,” said Capt. Joseph Deer, chief of incident management, 17th District. “We are encouraging all mariners to monitor National Weather Service reports and take appropriate safety precautions, such as pulling into a safe harbor or taking shelter in the lee of an island, in order to safeguard their crews.”

The Coast Guard recommends that concerned fishermen and citizens visit the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s website at www.arh.noaa.gov for more information about current weather conditions in the Bering Sea.

To learn more about being prepared during an emergency situation, visit the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s website at www.ak-prepared.com/outreach/Prepare.

November 4, 2014

SUPER TYPHOON NURI HEADED FOR BERING SEA

Super Typhoon Nuri's maximum winds reached 180 mph on November 2, 2014, as it roared over the Pacific Ocean east of the Philippines and south of Japan. According to the U.S. military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Nuri has tied with Super Typhoon Vongfong for the strongest tropical cyclone of 2014, and it's headed towards the Aleutians, the Bering Sea, and the far northern Pacific this weekend. Nuri's winds could back off to hurricane-wind status and the forecast could change between now and Friday, so check the weather for the latest on Super Typhoon Nuri. The crab and cod fishing seasons are currently underway in the Bering Sea.

November 2, 2014

FISHING BOAT SINKS OFF MATINICUS ISLAND, MAINE; ONE FISHERMAN RESCUED, TWO MISSING

The 45' fishing vessel NO LIMITS, based out of Cushing, Maine, sent out a radio beacon distress signal off of Matinicus Island, Maine the afternoon of November 1, 2014. When the NO LIMITS crew did not answer the Coast Guard's many response calls, the Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine Command Centers coordinated a wide-scale, multi-agency rescue effort.

The Coast Guard newsroom reported that crew in a Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod spotted a flare fired from one survivor inside a life raft. They safely hoisted him aboard and flew to Maine Medical Hospital in Portland. According to WMTW 8 TV in Maine, the survivor is the boat's captain, Chris Hutchinson, who has been released from the hospital.

The Coast Guard and Maine Marine Patrol searched for the remaining two crewmembers for more than 17 hours, covering 130 nautical square miles. Weather conditions included high winds, freezing spray and the first winter storm of the season. There were no signs of the two missing fishermen, and the search was suspended Sunday, November 2 pending further developments.

November 1, 2014

BARGE RUNS AGROUND OFF KODIAK, AK WITH POSSIBLE 2.2 MILLION GALLONS FUEL PRODUCTS ABOARD

On Saturday morning, November 1, 2014, Coast Guard Anchorage received a report that the 382-foot barge DBL106 had run aground approximately two miles from Kodiak, AK while being towed by the 124-foot M/V BISMARK SEA. The barge, owned by Kirby Offshore Marine, is loaded with a possible 2.2 million gallons of fuel products aboard.

The barge was successfully refloated, and no sign of pollution was reported at the time of the grounding. "The Coast Guard is deploying resources to the scene and has directed the vessel's owners to anchor until a thorough damage assessment can be made," said Capt. Paul Mehler, Sector Anchorage commander. "Our priority is to ensure the safety of the public and the environment."

Once at anchor, the vessel will be boomed off to prevent any potential pollution from spreading.

No injuries were reported. The weather on scene was reported to be calm with 11-17 mph winds and 3-4 foot seas.

October 30, 2014

SLEEPING AT THE WHEEL OF A FISHING VESSEL? EIGHT TIMES? GROSSLY NEGLIGENT.

Kevin Lam, 43, master of the fishing vessel LADY ANN MARGARET, pled guilty to eight charges of sleeping at the wheel for extended periods of time with no other person on watch, said the US Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii on October 24, 2014. The prosecution said that Lam's behavior risked the lives not only of his crew and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observer on board, but also other crewmembers at sea. Capt. Shannon Gilreach, commander, US Coast Guard Honolulu, said, "Mariners who intentionally sleep while on watch or abandon the wheelhouse after setting the helm on autopilot put the lives of their crews and other mariners at risk."

Lam's punishment is he cannot act as master or person in charge of any commercial vessel for one year, and he must attend Coast Guard-approved training after the one-year probation is complete. He also must volunteer 60 hours of community service.

According to the Coast Guard, the year before the above charge Lam's boat collided with another boat while he was sleeping at the wheel. He was fined $2500.