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.

October 24, 2014

FUEL BARGE ADRIFT IN BEAUFORT SEA, AK

A 134-foot barge is drifting in the Beaufort Sea and may be headed towards Prudhoe Bay after its towline snapped in Canadian waters during a severe storm Monday. The unmanned barge, carrying 950 gallons of diesel fuel, broke free from the tugboat towing it and began drifting west with the wind into US waters. The fuel tanks on board seem to be intact and there is no evidence of discharge. The barge's owner, Northern Transportation Corporation Limited, (NTCL) notified the Canadian Coast Guard, who immediately issued a Notice to Shipping to advise mariners operating in the Arctic. NTCL is a Canadian marine operator and barging company.

The US Coast Guard is sending out an aircraft to determine the barge's exact location and figure out where it's heading and how fast. They're also trying to figure out how to retrieve the barge.

Commander Shawn Decker, US Coast Guard Chief of Response, Sector Anchorage said it could be difficult because ice is forming fast on the Beaufort Sea, and officials have very few vessel options to retrieve the barge.

"We have a long history of working with our Canadian partners to accomplish these joint environmental protection missions," said Commander Shawn Decker. "As the barge's owner and Canadian coast guard forces continue to respond, we will stand by to assist in mitigating any possible environmental impact."

Weather on scene is reported as 40 mph winds and 12-foot seas.
UPDATE BELOW: DRIFTING BARGE LIKELY TO SPEND WINTER IN BEAUFORT SEA ICE

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October 23, 2014

AMERICAN TUG BARBARA FOSS RESCUES DISABLED RUSSIAN CONTAINER SHIP ADRIFT OFF HAIDA GWAII IN BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA

On Thursday night, October 17, 2014, the 440' Russian container ship SIMUSHIR lost power in heavy winds and rough water off Haida Gwaii, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, while sailing from Everett, WA to Russia. SIMUSHIR was carrying 298 containers of mining equipment and chemicals as well as 450 tons of fuel. Drifting helplessly, it could have hit the rocky shores, broken apart, and created an international environmental disaster.

The ship drifted without power from Thursday night until Friday night. Canadian Coast Guard cutter GORDON REID then arrived and secured a line on the ship, according to officials with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria. The SIMUSHIR'S captain was evacuated by helicopter with an unknown condition, and the 10 remaining crew stayed on board trying to restart the engine.

The GORDON REID slowly towed the disabled ship due west away from Haida Gwaii’s coastline. On Saturday, October 19, the GORDON REID's towline parted and the SIMUSHIR was once again adrift. Other Canadian and American Coast Guard cutters had arrived by then, so they tried securing a line to the ship. Twice they tried; twice their lines parted. It is difficult to tow a huge container ship, but a fully-fitted oceangoing rescue tug can properly assist. The American tug BARBARA FOSS, based in Neah Bay, WA, came to the rescue.
At 5:30 pm Saturday, BARBARA FOSS arrived and secured a line to the drifting ship. A spokesman for Russian shipping firm SASCO, the owners of the vessel, said the owners asked that SIMUSHIR be towed to the nearest port, Prince Rupert, 93 nautical miles away. Early Monday, October 20, the tug and ship arrived safely in port at Prince Rupert. Engine repairs were expected to take two days.

B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak thanked responders Sunday for managing the situation. “As fortunate as we were on this occasion, this event underlines the need to develop a world-leading marine response system,” Polak said. “The federal government has taken steps towards developing a world-class marine response system but more work is required.”

October 22, 2014

CRAB POT INJURES FISHERMAN ON F/V ICY MIST

An Alaska crab fisherman aboard the F/ V ICY MIST has been medivaced for medical treatment after a crab pot fell on him Sunday. The crew was reportedly loading crab pot gear 150 miles southeast of Sand Point, Alaska, when the accident happened. A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted the crewman from the vessel and transported him to Cold Bay. The extent of the crewman’s injuries is unknown.

Working as an Alaska crab fisherman remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Fishermen typically work with crab pots that weigh 700 to 800 pounds, sometimes working in seas 20 feet high or more. If proper safety precautions are not followed in landing the pots, they can swing out of control injuring crewmen. Once aboard the vessel, the crab pots must be properly secured and tied down. Fishing vessel owners owe a duty to have their crew properly trained in safety procedures and provide their crewmen with a safe place to work. Because of the dangers associated with this type of work, crab boats must be kept seaworthy at all times to prevent injuries to the crew.

Beard Stacey & Jacobsen LLP is one of the most experienced law firms in the country in handling crewmen injuries aboard crab boats. Crewmen injured while working in the Bering Sea are covered by the Jones Act. The general maritime law also provides that the employer pay all of a seaman’s medical bills, and provide a daily living expense while the seaman is recovering from his injuries. Fishermen who are injured as a result of negligence may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and losses associated with their enjoyment of life.

October 17, 2014

VESSEL SINKS NORTH OF DUNGENESS SPIT, SEQUIM, WA, AFTER TWO CREWMEMBERS ABOARD RESCUED BY COAST GUARD

At 7:31 am on October 17, 2014, the owner of the 67-foot recreational vessel LADY A made a we're-abandoning-ship distress call to the Coast Guard in Port Angeles, WA. The Coast Guard immediately sent a response boat and helicopter to the sinking boat located north of the Dungeness Spit in Sequim, WA. The crew of TOKYO EXPRESS, a 664-foot tanker traveling through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, also sent a response boat to assist. Both response boats arrived at the LADY A around 8:10 am and found the man and woman, local residents of the area, still on their boat. They were transferred to the Coast Guard response boat and taken to the Port Angeles station. Neither crewmember was injured, the Coast Guard reported.

Lady A reportedly sank in 180 feet of water with approximately 700 gallons of diesel on board. No sheen has been reported. Pollution responders from the Coast Guard's incident management division have been notified and are working with the vessel owner and the Washington State Department of Ecology to decide if the vessel can be salvaged. It is unknown at this time why the boat sank.

October 11, 2014

INTOXICATED MASTER GROUNDS FISHING VESSEL ARLINE IN SWINOMISH CHANNEL NEAR ANACORTES, WA

On the evening of October 9, 2014, the master of the 50-foot fishing vessel ARLINE called the Coast Guard to report that his boat had gone aground in the Swinomish Channel near Anacortes, WA. The Coast Guard Cutter ADELIE assisted and its crew boarded the ARLINE. Coast Guard crewmembers thought that the ARLINE master and crew had been drinking, so they administered breathalyzer tests. Results showed blood alcohol contents at .115; .008 is illegal. Local police took the master into custody.

The ARLINE was towed to the Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. A light sheen was found after the vessel was moored, so a containment boom was installed and a Coast Guard incident management team from Seattle is working with contractors to contain the pollution and develop a salvage plan.

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October 10, 2014

MAN DROWNS OFF SHILSHOLE BAY MARINA DOCK, SEATTLE, WA

On the evening of September 29, 2014, Robert Doug Schrecengost, 59, was found dead in the water near Dock R at Shilshole Bay Marina. The Port of Seattle reported that it appears he drowned, with no signs of foul play or intentional death. Seattle Fire Department tried to revive him on route to Harborview Hospital, but he had been in the water too long. Schrecengost was a recreational boater and commercial fisherman, and he lived at the marina on his 31-foot sailboat named Del Ray.

In 2006, five similar deaths occurred at another marina in Seattle; four fishermen and one woman accidentally drowned off the docks at Fisherman's Terminal. After complaints by fishermen and tenants, Seattle Port officials and WA Department of Labor and Industries investigated safety concerns such as slippery wood docks, lack of guard rails, inadequate lighting, and the need for more ladders and life rings. More self-rescue ladders were installed as well as other safety measures.

October 9, 2014

INJURED DIVER MEDEVACED FROM FISHING VESSEL TERESA JEAN NEAR PATOS ISLAND AND FLOWN TO VIRGINIA MASON HOSPITAL IN SEATTLE

On September 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm, a crewmember of the fishing vessel TERESA JEAN, located off Patos Island in the San Juan Islands, called the US Coast Guard in Bellingham, WA to report that a diver needed immediate assistance due to decompression sickness. According to the Coast Guard report, their response boat arrived less than 30 minutes later and transferred the injured diver to their boat. Ten minutes later, the Coast Guard helicopter DOLPHIN flew in from Port Angeles, WA and successfully medevaced the 22-year old diver to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. It is unknown whether the involved diver was engaged in recreational or commercial diving operations. Strict federal and state safety regulations apply to commercial divers. The diver's condition was not known.

October 8, 2014

EVERY MARINER SHOULD OWN UPDATED BOOK ON SURVIVAL AT SEA AND COMMERCIAL FISHING SAFETY

Commercial fishing is still the most dangerous job in the nation. Knowledge is power and potential survival, so every mariner can learn from reading the seventh edition of "Beating the Odds: A Guide to Commercial Fishing Safety, by Susan Clark Jensen and Jerry Dzugan of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. The new edition updates information on survival equipment, such as how to efficiently put on an immersion suit; specific duties during an emergency, such as how to make a distress call; and first aid, including specific examples of casualties. Other chapters discuss vessel safety, reading the weather, handling fishing gear safely, fatigue, hydration, nutrition and other essential safety skills. You may order the book and download it at seagrant.uaf.edu/bookstore/pubs/MAB-41.html. However, no one book can completely cover all the dangers of commercial fishing. Another good reference is the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association Vessel Safety Manual. Fishermen should also understand the Fishing Vessel Safety Act. Boost your chances of success and update your knowledge of safety and survival skills.

September 8, 2014

WSMC OIL SPILL INFORMATION SEMINAR TO TAKE PLACE OCTOBER 24th, 2014

With the recent approval of the Washington State Maritime Cooperative’s new oil spill contingency plan, a seminar will be held Friday, October 24th, 2014 at the Doubletree Guest Suites Southcenter at 7:45 AM.
The seminar is free, and intends to address the significant changes of the new plan. Attendees will be able to learn and discuss the different areas of the plan, such as spill response, spill prevention, as well as contingency planning. Both local and national stakeholders will be able to exchange information with the aim of creating an environmentally safer region for maritime commerce.
Over a hundred people are expected to attend the seminar. This amount includes members of the U.S. Coast Guard, Washington’s Department of Ecology, oil spill response contractors, as well as members of the WSMC.
As the event draws near, visit the WSMC Seminar Page here for more information on attending or what topics will be discussed.