March 2, 2015

Coast Guard Safety Alerts 1996-2014 - Valuable Vessel Safety Information

The cover photo of Coast Guard Safety Alerts 1996-2014 is chilling: A large ship is awash in ocean water and is about to sink. The report is a compilation of safety alerts on a myriad of maritime safety issues such as "Attention on Deck! Commercial Fishing Vessels," "Unprepared Safety Equipment," "Bow Riding in Heavy Weather," "Watertight Doors: Close Them and Dog Them," and many more. Read, apply, and keep a safe ship for all.

March 1, 2015

Washington Oregon Dungeness Crab Prices Jumped to $9 Per Pound

Commercial Dungeness crab fishermen on the Washington and Oregon Coast earned $3.10/pound at the beginning of the season in December 2014. By Christmas they received $4.50/pound, and by the middle of February 2015, prices jumped to $9/pound. Why the nearly three times price increase?

One reason is this year’s harvest is down but demand is still high. According to Hugh Link, executive director for the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, last year Oregon fishermen caught 14 million pounds by the middle of February; this year they caught 7 million pounds. The Chinook Observer reported that this year Washington caught 6.2 million pounds by February 5. The quality of crabs has been the best in years, but there aren’t that many of them.

Crab is served more often at holiday parties and dinners during Christmas and New Year's, so demand is higher. China’s New Year was February 19 and their crab demand was very high. Demand coupled with crab scarcity equals high payment to crab fishermen.

The Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission,, says that 75% of the crab harvest is caught during the first eight weeks of the season. Crab fishing traditionally drops in the spring as fishermen prepare for other fisheries. Luckily, a small number of boats continue to offer crab throughout the summer months as they fish until the season closes in August.

James Beard, renowned chef, said that crab is a “meal the gods intended only for the pure in palate.” Crab is always in demand; the amount of demand coupled with the amount of crab obviously determines the price.

February 28, 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy - on a Ship Nonetheless

"I realize it was a fake spaceship, but dangit it was a ship nonetheless and Mr. Spock served on it. Here’s to one of the great humans of our time." Rob Almeida

Rob Almeida is Partner and Chief Marketing Officer at gCaptain Maritime & Offshore News -

February 16, 2015

Four Fishermen Rescued After F/V SAVANNAH RAY Ran Aground near Kodiak, AK

In the early morning of February 16, the Alaska Coast Guard received a 406 Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alert from the 81-foot Fish Tender SAVANNAH RAY. Coast Guard watchstanders made callouts asking if the vessel needed assistance and received a broken MAYDAY from the crew. The vessel had run aground in Chiniak Bay near Kodiak, Alaska, and the four fishermen on board had donned their survival suits and deployed the life raft. A Jayhawk Kodiak helicopter crew flew to the grounded tender, safely hoisted the four fishermen, and flew them to emergency medical services in Kodiak. The weather at the time of the rescue was reported as 51 mph winds with 11-foot seas.

"This rescue highlights how critical it is to have a registered 406 EPIRB onboard when operating a vessel of any size," said Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Sheean, watchstander, Sector Anchorage. "During an emergency, especially in the cold waters of Alaska, it’s important for responders to immediately know that an event has occurred and the location of your vessel.”

On July 26, 2013, SAVANNAH RAY grounded in Bainbridge Passage in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The tender floated off the rocks on the incoming tide.

February 15, 2015

Fisherman Medevaced from Factory Trawler AMERICAN TRIUMPH off Cold Bay, Alaska due to Severed Fingers Injury

Crew from the 285’ Factory Trawler AMERICAN TRIUMPH called the Coast Guard on February 12 to report that a 36-year old man had two of his fingers severed by a steel door. A Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter crew in Cold Bay flew approximately 92 miles north to the trawler, safely medevaced the man, and flew him back to Cold Bay for emergency medical services.

AMERICAN TRIUMPH is owned by American Seafoods Company. According to the company’s website, the trawler is currently catching and processing pollack, hake, and sole.

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.