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Samson_Mariner-300x225The Coast Guard, working in partnership with several other agencies, continues to respond to the tugboat SAMSON MARINER that ran aground near Rosa Reef in north Tongass Narrows, Alaska. Approximately 1,100 gallons of fuel was spilled before the breach could be patched by Alaska Commercial Divers.

The official report by the Coast Guard indicates that environmental pollution from the breach might have been much higher, as the SAMSON MARINER was carrying 30,000 gallons of fuel on board while the barge was carrying 40,000 gallons of diesel. Thankfully, the barge did not sustain any damage. Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SEAPRO) initiated immediate cleansing of the water around the Rosa Reef using a fuel containment and recovery boom as well as absorbent pads.

“We are working closely with our partner agencies to recover as much of the spilled product as possible,” said Capt. Shannan Greene, Coast Guard Sector Juneau commander. “When spilled, this type of diesel spreads quickly into thin films forming patches of rainbow and silver sheens. We expect the sheen to break up within the next 12 to 24 hours, with scattered sheens potentially still visible under the low wind conditions forecast for tomorrow. Although not expected to impact sensitive areas or wildlife, we routinely collaborate with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to mitigate these risks.”

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FV-Destination-1-2It is with great sadness that we report the suspension of the search for the six missing crew members of the F/V DESTINATION. The vessel is believed to have sunk on Saturday, February 11th in the Bering Sea. Weather at the time was reported as 30-mph winds with five to eight-foot seas and snowing. The air temperature was 21 degrees and sea temperature was 3o degrees.

The Coast Guard reported that the search covered more than 5,730 square nautical miles, and included 21 coordinated searches with a total of 69 aircraft and surface hours.

Watchstanders from the 17th District reported that an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alert was received from the F/V DESTINATION early Saturday morning, and that Kodiak aircrews were deployed to initiate the search.

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FV-Destination-1-2-300x169The search in the Bering Sea continues for the 98’ F/V DESTINATION and six crewmembers, whose emergency beacon broadcast a signal at 7:15 am, February 11 from two miles northwest of St. George, Alaska. The Coast Guard’s Hercules airplane crew arrived at 10:15 am to begin searching, and two helicopters crews are also assisting. Two Good Samaritan fishing vessels, SILVER SPRAY AND BERING ROSE, also assisted with the search.

The emergency beacon, or electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), was found in a debris field with buoys, a life ring from the DESTINATION, tarps, and an oil sheen.

Residents in St. George are patrolling the shoreline for any signs of the crew or boat. St. George is a small Pribilof Island with a population of approximately 100.

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The US Coast Guard rescued three commercial fishermen on Sunday morning after their fishing vessel COASTAL REIGN began taking on water. The crew reported that their vessel struck a submerged object as they navigated the mouth of the Columbia River.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia received the captain’s mayday call (listen here) at 3:20 a.m. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was launched, and first to arrive on the scene at 3:38 a.m. A 47-foot motor life boat from Ilwaco, Washington arrived shortly thereafter, and assisted with the dewatering of the fishing vessel.

The dewatered vessel was then towed to safety and moored at 4:40 a.m.

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El-Faro-300x225The third and final EL FARO hearing has been scheduled for February 6, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation will focus on crew witnesses, TOTE company officials, Coast Guard officials as well as the contents of EL FARO’S voyage data recorder (VDR). The transcript of bridge audio recordings was released on December 13, 2016, by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The examination of data from the voyage data recorder began on August 15, one week after the device was located at a depth of 15,000 feet and brought to the surface. NTSB recovered about 26 hours of information from the device, including bridge audio, navigational data, onboard radar images, route planning and wind data.

The investigation seeks to determine which factors contributed to the sinking, and will look for evidence of misconduct, inattention to duty, negligence, willful violation of the law by any licensed or certified person, as well as whether there is any evidence that Coast Guard personnel or any government employee contributed to the accident.

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HandXRay-300x262Allan Tabingo was injured at sea due to defective machinery on his employer’s fishing vessel.  A hydraulic lever controlling a fish hatch had been defective for two years. When the hatch operator tried to activate the hydraulic lever to stop the hatch from closing, the handle on the lever popped out of the valve. The hatch could not be stopped.  The result was a traumatic hand injury and the loss of a father’s livelihood. The accident could have been prevented had American Seafoods simply repaired the handle when it was found to be defective two years earlier.

On January 17, 2017, lawyers in the case of Allan Tabingo vs. American Triumph LLC argued in the Washington State Supreme Court the question of whether an injured seaman may recover punitive damages when injured on an unseaworthy vessel?  You can view the arguments here. Originally denied at the trial court, this case was chosen for a fast track (“interlocutory”) appeal and sent to the Washington State Supreme Court due to the importance of this issue for injured fishermen and seamen.

The Jones Act and Maritime Law already provide for Compensatory Damages.  An injured seaman may recover a monetary amount necessary to replace what was lost due to his/her injury. Compensatory Damages usually cover:

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Rscue-300x199The Fishing Company of Alaska (Renton, Washington) has sold its three remaining factory trawlers and catch quotas to Ocean Peace and O’Hara Corporation.

Mike Faris, CEO of Seattle-based Ocean Peace, confirmed that his company will purchase two of the trawlers and catch quotas. O’Hara Corporation Vice President Frank O’Hara Jr. said his company will purchase one trawler and half of the fishing quotas, giving the company a more diverse harvest that includes higher-priced species.

Purchase prices for vessels and quotas have not been disclosed.

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StarKingRescueWARRENTON, Ore. – Five commercial fishermen were rescued from the water after their fishing vessel STAR KING, a 55-foot stern trawler, capsized and sank near the mouth of the Columbia River early Saturday morning.

Crewmembers were pulled from the water by good Samaritan fishing vessel SEA BALLAD, then transferred to the Coast Guard 47-foot Motor Life Boat. The STAR KING crew were then transported to Ilwaco, Washington by Coast Guard personnel. No crewmembers required medical attention.

Watchstanders at the Sector Columbia River command center received the first mayday call at 4:31 a.m. It was reported that the vessel was taking on water and listing hard to starboard before capsizing and sending all five fishermen into the water. All crewmembers were accounted for by 5:10 a.m.

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706062-300x206January 6 was a tough day for the F/V GUDNY and Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, both disabled 230 miles east-southeast of Kodiak, Alaska.  Fortunately, the four fishermen off the 87’ LADY GUDNY were airlifted by a Coast Guard helicopter crew and safely flown to Kodiak.

What happened? At 1:43 a.m. the Kodiak Coast Guard received a distress call from the F/V LADY GUDNY requesting fuel filters because the engine had failed and they were adrift. At 7:30 am, they called again to say they could not restart the engine. Weather was reported as 20-22 foot seas with 49 mph winds – see the photo above. The helicopter crew flew out and airlifted the fishermen off the boat, and the 225’ Coast Guard Cutter SPAR arrived to tow the LADY GUDNY to Kodiak. Unfortunately, the towline parted and tangled in the SPAR’s propeller, disabling the SPAR. Lines tangled in propellers are a nightmare for any vessel size. The commercial tugs ANNA-T and CHAHUNTA ended up towing the SPAR AND LADY GUDNY to Kodiak.

Here are two Coast Guard statements about the LADY GUDNY:

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27-Foot-Crab-Boat-300x225On December 31st at 3:05 p.m. the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received a distress call from a mariner aboard a 27-foot crab boat that was disabled and adrift in the shoals of Bellingham Bay. The mariner was safely removed from his vessel by the crew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium at 4:13 p.m. The mariner was listed in good health and did not require medical attention.

When the mariner called for help, he was disoriented and unable to give his exact location to Coast Guard personnel. Thankfully, his location was established using the GPS signal from his cell phone.

“The Coast Guard encourages mariners to carry a VHF-FM radio aboard their vessels,” said Don Knesebeck, a command duty officer at Coast Guard 13th District Command Center. “Even if cell phones have a GPS transmitter, tracking down a cell phone is an involved process. Calling 911 with a cell phone should not be ruled out in case of an emergency but using a radio for distress calls is the best possible way to get the help you need, faster.”