January 29, 2015

Small Fishing Boat Capsizes near Port Orford, Oregon: One Dead, Two Survive

A couple beachcombing near Paradise Point in Port Orford, Oregon saw a small recreational fishing boat caught between large ocean swells and crashing surf on Sunday, January 25. Suddenly the 24’ boat flipped over, dumping the three passengers into the water. Michael Fowler, 38, and Ariana Hall, 19, who was wearing a life vest, struggled through the surf to get to shore. The third passenger, Albert Self, 37, yelled for help in the ocean surf. All three lived in Port Orford, Oregon.

The beachcombing couple, Jim and Medette Hayman, immediately called 911 at 1:45 pm and rushed to help Fowler and Hall to safety. Other beachcombers also ran to assist. No one could reach Self before he disappeared in the water. It is believed he was not wearing a life vest.

The Coast Guard responded as well as members of the Coos County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement. Crews searched for Self for nine hours, covering more than 169 miles without finding him.

Deputies reportedly searched along the beach using all-terrain vehicles with no sightings on Monday morning, January 26. People in the area pulled the boat out of the water using construction equipment.

"Our thoughts go out to the families and loved ones affected by this misfortune," said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Alfredo Rivera, the command center supervisor at Sector North Bend. "Calling off a search is one of the hardest decisions search and rescue personnel have to make."

January 27, 2015

Pilot Presumed Dead in Plane Crash near Seabeck, Washington in Hood Canal

At 1 pm on January 26, 2015, the Puget Sound Coast Guard received a phone call from the Kitsap County 911 operator stating that a small red and white plane had crashed in the waters of the Hood Canal. The Coast Guard launched two helicopter crews, a 45’ response boat crew, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter HENRY BLAKE to the reported crash site. Other agency responders included personnel from Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Sheriff's Office and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

At around 2:30 pm, a helicopter crew found airplane debris near Seabeck, Washington. Search crews recovered a driver’s license and other items which allowed investigators to identify the pilot and notify the next of kin. It is Coast Guard policy to withhold names for 24 hours after next of kin have been notified. The pilot was believed to be the only person aboard.

“Our prayers and heartfelt wishes go out to the friends and loved ones of those affected by this tragedy,” said Lieutenant Raphael Sadowitz, the command duty officer at Sector Puget Sound. “We also extend our gratitude to the good Samaritans who were quick to report the incident and the local law enforcement personnel who aided in our search. Their efforts helped ensure our ability to swiftly find the location of the crash and thoroughly cover the surrounding areas.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the only missing aircraft in the area is an RV7, a homemade single-engine two-seater. FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer says it’s missing from the Tacoma Narrows airport and is registered to a man from Fox Island.

Weather reported at the time of the incident consisted of clear skies, 12 to 15 mph winds, 1-foot seas and an air temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit and water temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Under United States law, aircraft that crash into navigable waters are governed by Federal maritime law.

January 22, 2015

Crew Rescued as F/V EYAK Sinks Near Sitka, Alaska

A crewmember on board the 80-foot tender F/V EYAK called the Juneau Coast Guard at 5:45 am on January 19, 2015 to report they had grounded and the boat was taking on water. The tender was located near Calligan Island, about 16 miles south of Sitka Harbor. The Coast Guard flew a helicopter from Air Station Sitka and also asked for assistance from Sitka Police and Fire Departments and the Alaska State Troopers.

Sitka’s emergency response vessel (ERV), jointly operated by the fire department and police department, and a boat from the Alaska State Troopers arrived at the EYAK around 7:30 a.m. The four EYAK crewmembers wore survival suits and had inflated the life raft. Sitka Police Ryan Silva was aboard the ERV. “I’m just glad we got there when we did because it was under 45 minutes later that it (the EYAK) slipped into the water fully,” Silva said.

The crew was transferred safely to the ERV, along with their dog. All four were uninjured and did not require medical attention, according to the Trooper report.

David Castle, 48, on board the boat, is the captain and owner. Crew members are Anna Zallau, 29, Charles Wlaslewski, 23, and Debra Rose, 49, all of Port Alexander.

The Coast Guard reported that it is monitoring the EYAK wreck since it had about 500 gallons of fuel on board when it sank.

The EYAK is a flat-bottomed fish tender built in 1943 for the New England Fish Company and was one of the few fishing vessels built during World War II, according to a profile of the vessel written by Will Swagel of Sitka. It has for years served as the regular mail and supply boat for Baranof Island’s small communities, including Port Alexander.

January 16, 2015

Icicle Seafoods, Inc. is for Sale

Icicle Seafoods, Inc., a major harvester and processor of wild and farmed seafood in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, is for sale. Private equity investment firm Paine & Partners bought Icicle in 2007 and is now looking for a buyer.

Icicle Seafoods began in 1965 when a group of employees and fishermen in Petersburg, Alaska bought the Pacific American Fisheries cannery. The company has grown to own and operate on-shore canneries in Seward, Homer, Egegik on Bristol Bay, Larsen Bay on Kodiak Island, and Wood River out of Dillingham. They also own and operate processing ships and fishing boats throughout Alaska and process salmon, pollack, and crab.

Icicle also runs a farmed salmon business in the Pacific Northwest, with farms at Bainbridge Island, Cypress Island, Port Angeles, and Hope Island, WA. They also expanded to a farmed salmon venture in Chile, raising and selling farm-raised coho and Atlantic salmon.

The seafood world is wondering if Icicle will be sold as a whole or broken up into sections, such as wild seafood versus farmed salmon.

January 14, 2015

Injured Crab Fisherman from F/V IRENE H in Shelikof Strait Medevaced to Kodiak, Alaska

A crab fisherman reportedly injured his abdomen while pulling in crab pots on the F/V IRENE H on January 13, 2015. Crew from the fishing vessel called the Coast Guard to report the injury and ask for medical assistance. The Kodiak Coast Guard Air Station then flew a Jayhawk helicopter crew to Shelikof Strait and the IRENE H.

Weather conditions were rough: reportedly 25 mph winds and 7-foot seas.

"The operation was challenging from the start," said Lt. Greg Dahl, pilot of the Jayhawk. "The dynamic weather conditions made for a rough ride but once on scene, the captain and crew of the vessel were very cooperative which enabled us to smoothly execute a successful rescue."

The injured man was hoisted into the helicopter and flown to Kodiak, where he was transferred to Kodiak Fire Department personnel and further care.

January 8, 2015

Newport Fishermen’s Wives Continue Fight for Newport, Oregon Helicopter Base Beyond January 2016

Newport Fishermen’s Wives and the Newport, Oregon community fought hard and won the one-year extension of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Newport helicopter base.

Fishermen’s Wives of Newport, a non-profit, and co-complainants sued the Coast Guard when the Newport air station was slated to close due to budget ills. Their lawsuit states that closing the air station violates the Coast Guard’s legacy missions including marine safety, search and rescue, and aids to navigation.

On December 11, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Coast Guard from closing the Newport air station. “It was an enormously impressive effort on the part of stakeholders and the community to challenge this on all fronts: politically, in the press and in the courts,” said Fishermen’s Wives of Newport’s attorney Michael Haglund. The helicopter base in Newport will remain open until January 1, 2016.

The battle is not over, however. Now NFW’s president Jennifer Stevenson said her group hopes to convince Coast Guard administration to keep the air station open after the one-year budget deal expires.

Stevenson said, “The extension has given us the opportunity to work with the Coast Guard to see why we can’t lose the helicopter—because it leaves our community vulnerable.”

“That helicopter is such a necessity out there and I am very happy they were able to save it for at least another year or so,” said Kelly Madden, skipper of the F/V BLAZER when it sank on November 29 off of Newport. Some of his crew was rescued by the Newport-based helicopter.

Democratic members of the Oregon delegation said in a statement they would also continue fighting to keep the Newport air station open.

December 30, 2014

Alaska Fisheries Run Year Round: See Opening Dates

Many ambitious hopefuls or romantic souls dream of flying to Alaska in the summer to win the salmon season lottery. I was one of those dreamers and fortunately worked in Bristol Bay for 10 summers. Although I didn’t get rich, I am rich with memories of hard work, camaraderie, and the long and light days in Naknek, Alaska.

There are many other Alaskan fisheries to work in besides salmon, however. Here’s a list of fisheries and opening dates compiled from information from Laine Welch, a Kodiak-based fisheries journalist.

January 1: Boats with hook and line gear or pots will fish the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska for Pacific cod, rockfish and other groundfish.

January 20: Trawlers fish for pollock, the world’s largest food fishery.

Crab boats will soon after fish in the Bering Sea for snow crab, Alaska’s largest crab fishery.

Early March: an eight month-long halibut and sablefish (black cod) seasons begins.

March: Alaska’s roe herring circuit begins, usually at Sitka Sound. That fishery will continue for several months up the coast to Norton Sound.

Mid May is considered the “official” start of Alaska’s salmon season, when king and sockeye salmon return home to the Copper River. King salmon is available to Southeast AK trollers for all but two weeks of the year, however.

All summer and into the fall: Salmon fisheries run fiercely.

Mid-October: Red king crab is caught in Bristol Bay.

In summary, the Alaska fisheries industry puts more people to work than oil/gas, mining, timber, and tourism combined. You’ll learn a lot about yourself if you decide to work on a boat or in a cannery. Be prepared to test your limits, and I hope you make a lot of money.

December 29, 2014

Two Boaters Rescued After Skiff Grounds off Sitka, Alaska

A man and woman ran aground in their 17-foot skiff near Kanga Bay, about 11 miles south of Sitka, Alaska, as they traveled on December 27. Both were thrown overboard, and the man injured his head and face, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert. The boat drifted away and stranded the couple. Kanga Bay is a remote area off of Baranof Island and is only accessible by boat or floatplane (or Coast Guard helicopter).

Around 10 pm, Sitka emergency operators received a 911 call about the couple. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Sitka and a Sitka Fire Department boat responded to the scene. The two people were hoisted from shore into the helicopter and flown to Sitka for medical treatment.

The Coast Guard will conduct an interview with the couple to determine why the skiff ran aground.

Weather at the time of the rescue was clear with 11 mph winds and temperature of about 29 degrees.

December 16, 2014

Subcontractor Security Employee Drowns in Boating Accident at Kitsap Naval Base, Bangor, WA

William Smith, 50, of Bangor, WA, drowned in a boating accident at Kitsap Naval Base in Bangor, WA on December 11, 2014. Smith worked on base for the subcontractor Homeland Security Solutions (HSSI), a professional training, technology, and services company supporting security needs. Investigations are ongoing to determine the cause and circumstances of Smith's death. Mike McGuire, HSSI's program manager, could not provide details until investigations by his firm and the Navy are complete. The Kitsap County Coroner's Office confirmed that the cause of death was saltwater drowning.

December 12, 2014

Crew Member with Crushed Hand Medevaced from F/V TRAILBLAZER off Cold Bay, Alaska

Crew from the 120-foot fishing vessel TRAILBLAZER called the Alaska Coast Guard on Thursday, December 11, 2014 to report that a crew member's hand had been crushed in a crab pot launcher and needed immediate medical care. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac, and a Kodiak Jayhawk helicopter crew flew to the vessel located approximately 75 miles north of Cold Bay. They safely hoisted the 23-year old man into the helicopter and flew to Anna Livingston Memorial Clinic in Cold Bay for further medical assistance.

“Having assets in forward operating locations like Cold Bay during the busy fishing seasons is beneficial to mariners in times of distress,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Francell Abbott, watchstander, Coast Guard 17th District (Alaska).

Weather on scene was reported as 17-mph winds, 10 miles visibility and 37 degrees temperature.