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.

COAST GUARD AND GOOD SAMARITAN RESCUE 8 NEAR BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, WA

On August 31, 2014, the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a mayday call from a good Samaritan who found a capsized boat with 8 people, 7 adults and a child, in distress. The good Samaritan was able to pull up the 3 people in the water, while the rest clung to the side of his vessel.
A 45-foot response boat soon came and recovered the rest of the stranded passengers, bringing them all to Bainbridge Island, afterwards towing the capsized vessel to Eagle Harbor.
Mike Allen, the search and rescue coordinator at the Coast Guard’s Puget Sound Sector, credits the preparedness and response of the good Samaritan as being instrumental in the rescue. ‘Had he not come upon them, the current could have carried them out further and the situation could have become much worse,’ he was quoted as saying.
As the child was the only one wearing their life preserver, the Coast Guard reminds everyone, even recreational mariners, to wear their jacket, as it becomes much harder to access and put on once you are in the water.

COAST GUARD PATROL RETURNS FROM BAJA AFTER DRUG BUST

The Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin, ported in Bellingham, returned September 1st, after a patrol to help control drug trafficking from Southern Baja California. The 42-day patrol involved cooperation with both United States Customs and Border Protection, as well as the Mexican navy.
On August 21st, a boat was reported as suspicious by the partnered air patrols in the area, and the Terrapin intercepted it. Smugglers, claiming to be Mexican nationals, as well as an estimated 90 bales of marijuana totaling nearly a ton in weight, were found. Suspects, vessel, and marijuana were all turned over to the Mexican navy.
The Terrapin primarily serves Washington’s western coastline by patrolling and responding to various calls.

SALMON BAY OIL SPILL RESPONSE CONTINUES IN SEATTLE

On Labor Day 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology received word that oil, as well as strong petroleum odors, had appeared in the Ballard Mill Marina on Salmon Bay. The Coast Guard and Department of Ecology have established a unified command to oversee the plan and cleanup of the spill. Funds from the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund were used to hire diving and salvage crews to assist in the cleanup.
At this time, no one has claimed responsibility for the spill, but scientists are taking samples of oil from the spill as well as vessels in the vicinity to help track down the source. While no reports of wildlife being affected have been made, the estimated amount spent on cleanup so far is close to $75,000, which is being financed from the trust fund. Anyone with any information on the investigation is encouraged to contact the Puget Sound Coast Guard Command Center.

TWO STRANDED BOATERS RESCUED NEAR WILLAPA BAY, WA

A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew rescued a man and woman whose 12-foot skiff had run aground on a mud flat near Willapa Bay, Washington. The command center received a call for help late September 6th, after the vessel had become stuck. The two individuals made a second call for help after they left the boat and became stuck in the mud themselves.
The Jayhawk was able to hoist the pair out of the mud and fly them to Raymond, Washington, where medical crews were waiting to evaluate them.
Mark Dobney, a command duty officer at the Coast Guard Columbia River Sector says the incident shows the importance of having helicopters with hoist capabilities in the Pacific Northwest. Along with the highly trained helicopter crews, the ability to hoist the boaters out allowed them to be brought to safely quickly.

August 22, 2014

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FIGHT FOR RECOGNITION OF WA MARITIME HISTORY

Partially in response to Washington State’s tourism office being eliminated by budget cuts in 2011, two South Sound Congressmen have proposed a federal designation of Puget Sound as a heritage area. The 13 mile stretch of coast would not be subject to the same regulations as a wilderness or wetland, but would hopefully attract those curious about maritime history.
Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, created legislation that would create the second Northwest or West Coast heritage area, the first being in Alaska. The area would focus on the maritime history prevalent in the Puget Sound, and might lure in federal grants for projects such as preservation efforts.

WASHINGTON DEPT OF ECOLOGY APPROVES OIL SPILL CONTINGENCY PLAN

Earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Ecology approved of the Washington State Maritime Cooperative’s oil spill contingency plan, applying it to all vessels in Puget Sound and non-tank vessels in Grey’s Harbor. The WSMC website allows vessel owners to quickly enroll in the plan, laying out the regulations necessary to comply.
Some of the regulations in the plan include required Notice of Arrivals, posting the WSMC regulations where crewmembers have access to them, as well as agreeing to alert the WSMC within the hour if a situation arises where there is the possibility for a spill. The Department of Ecology’s approval runs for five years, through January 23rd, 2019.
More information can be found at the WSMC website, http://www.wsmcoop.org/.

MISSING DIVER RESCUED BY COAST GUARD

Near Cape Flattery, Washington, on Tuesday the 19th of August, a Coast Guard Motor Life Boat located and rescued a diver who had been reported missing. The diver had been separated from his friend after he didn’t resurface after the agreed upon amount of dive time. The thick fog that morning limited visibility, and so the Coast Guard were alerted.
Along with the Motor Life Boat, a Dolphin helicopter crew was also launched from Port Angeles. The diver was found waving to the Life Boat, and was taken to Station Neah Bay, where he was in good condition. He was taken to the hospital for further medical evaluation. Chief Petty Officer Raymond Anderson thanked his crew, the diver, and his friend for their proficiency, which allowed the diver to be found safely.

August 15, 2014

SEATTLE DIVER DROWNS OFF NOME DURING GOLD DREDGING EXPEDITION

Wednesday, August 13, 2014, a Washington resident died while diving off the dredge ARGO off the coast of Alaska near Nome. The diver was identified as Sean Beals, a resident of Seattle.
Around 10:30 p.m., the diver was observed floating facedown in the water. The dive tender who spotted the unconscious diver and another crewmember attempted to save the diver before he was transported to the Norton Sound Medical Center. There, he was declared deceased.
There are no signs of foul play, but the details surrounding the death are hazy. AST spokesperson Megan Peters says that the cause of death could be anything from drowning to a medical emergency, and that the Coast Guard is investigating into the matter, labeling the death a major marine incident.
The lawyers at Beard, Stacey, and Jacobsen have handled several recent cases involving the death of divers. Jim Jacobsen recently handled a case where a diver was killed due to an 8,000 pound steel piling pinned him to the ocean floor, recovering a settlement for the diver’s family. Additionally, Jim Beard is currently working on the case of David Scheinost, who was killed when the breathing apparatus he was using malfunctioned, leading to his death by drowning.

COAST GUARD RESCUES STRANDED HIKER IN OREGON

A woman who was hiking along the Ecola State Park cliffs near Seaside, Oregon, became trapped by the tide coming in sooner than expected on Sunday, July 6th. The Columbia River Coast Guard Sector received the report from local authorities.
A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was dispatched to the scene from the Coast Guard Air Station Astoria in Oregon, and safely hoisted the stranded woman. Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries, and the hiker was flown to Seaside Airport and transferred to fire rescue personnel.
If hiking or vacationing near the coast, be sure to be aware of when and how much the tide is going in or out.