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DestinationMemorial-244x300What began as a small fundraiser for the minor children of the F/V Destination crew quickly gained momentum and turned into a sold-out gala as community members saw a tangible way to help the families of the fishermen lost at sea. Tickets for “A Night Among the Stars” went on sale April 7th, and by April 21st, 300 tickets at $50 each had been sold. Organizers were thrilled, and worked tirelessly to produce an event that honored the fallen fishermen, their families, and the entire fishing community. The event, held on May 6th at the Ballard Elks Club, netted just over $125,000. Proceeds will benefit the minor children of the Destination crew.

Donations came from all over the Pacific Northwest, as did guests in attendance. “We just want to do something; we want to help those families, and this is a great way to honor those brave men and offer support.” said one local business owner. Auction items included flying lessons, Seahawks tickets, rounds of golf at local private clubs, overnight adventures, and of course, seafood.

If you were unable to attend the gala but would like to contribute, there are several ways you can help. Destination commemorative baseball hats and t-shirts are available to purchase at  eJoinMe.org, and donations can be made at any Peoples Bank location in Western Washington. Peoples Bank is administering the fund, and will not collect any fees; 100 percent of all donations will be directed to the F/V Destination Charitable Fund. Contributions can also be made by check payable to the “F/V Destination Charitable Fund” and mailed to: F/V Destination Charitable Fund, 999 3rd Ave. #2600, Seattle, WA 98104.

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Fishery_ObserverCommercial fishermen are familiar with the Fisheries Observer Program. Launched in 1972 by NOAA, there are between 450 and 1000 observers working on commercial fishing vessels alongside fishermen collecting data at any given time. They are trained scientists (often marine biologists) who collect information that is used to estimate stock levels, protect endangered species, and manage fisheries. Data obtained includes:

• estimates of catch and discards

• biological sampling of the catch

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Continental-Shelf-300x166The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the sinking of an out-of-service tugboat on Wednesday April 19th at approximately 10:15 p.m. The 81-foot tug, POWHATAN, had been docked at the Samson Tug and Barge pier.

The vessel initially sunk to a depth of about 15 meters but then shifted. The downward sloping shelf carried the sunken vessel about 330 meters out in Starrigavan Bay  to its current depth of approximately 60 meters (approximately 7 miles north of Sitka). The tug had been out of service for more than 10 years.

According to a situation report issued by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the Powhatan was carrying 325 gallons of lube oil, 12 gallons of diesel, and possible sludge in the bottom of the main tanks.

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scuba_divingIt is with great sadness that we report the death of a 36-year-old diver. The Pierce County Sheriff’s office dive team responded to a 911 call at approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday April 18, 2017. They were informed that the diver was unresponsive just south of the Navy Surface Warfare Center on Fox Island.

Responders attempted CPR on the diver as they took him to the Navy dock where Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One met them.  Efforts to revive the man continued as he was transported to Saint Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where he was pronounced deceased.

According to a Pierce County spokesman, the man was a geoduck diver working on a commercial vessel for the Squaxin Island Tribe. Because the incident happened on a commercial vessel, The U.S. Coast Guard will lead the investigation.

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Spartan151-300x176Furie Operating Alaska, LLC (“Furie”) has agreed to pay a $10 million civil penalty handed down by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency for violation of the Jones Act. The settlement is the largest Jones Act penalty in the history of the Act. The company focuses on the exploration and production of natural gas and oil in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska.

Attorney Bryan Schroder, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Alaska, announced that the company was assessed the penalty after it was found to have transported the Spartan 151 jack-up drill rig to Alaska from the Gulf of Mexico using a vessel sailing under a foreign flag.

Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, cargo moved from one U.S port to another U.S port must be transported by a vessel that is U.S. built, U.S. owned and U.S. crewed. Violation of this law may result in the assessment of a civil penalty equal to the value of the merchandise transported. In special circumstances, a waiver may be requested from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. A waiver may be granted if there is no U.S. vessel available or it is believed to be in the best interest of national defense.

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CoastGuardAwards-300x157We are pleased to report that the Coast Guard has named Tara Dodd 2016 active-duty enlisted person of the year and Nicole Cimino 2016 reserve enlisted person of the year for the 13th Coast Guard District.

Tara Dodd, Petty Officer 1st Class, is an active-duty culinary specialist assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter SWORDFISH. She has been described as a motivated self-starter who epitomizes sound leadership with her unique ability to instill confidence in others, and for her attention to detail, empathy, and mentorship. She is a respected leader, and through her own initiative has qualified for three additional special unit certifications. Dodd spends her off-duty time assisting a World War II veteran in the maintenance of his home and volunteers at the local Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, inspecting and replacing smoke detectors in local retirement facilities.

Nicole Cimino is the Lead Reserve Petty Officer of the armory at PSU 313 in Everett. Cimino supervises maintenance, training and range operations as well as maintaining the weapons qualifications for the 159 members assigned to the unit. Cimino has also served as a Level I trauma center nurse, where she has saved more than 1,000 seriously injured and critically wounded people. In addition to these accomplishments, she has led an armory team that exceeded Navy standards and received honors.

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Stacey-and-Jacobsen-Cropped-e1481062312338On March 9, 2017, in a landmark case handled by Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that punitive damages may be awarded to injured fishermen and seamen when the case involves a general maritime unseaworthiness claim. Where an employer recklessly provides a vessel or equipment that is not reasonably fit, the employee may bring a separate additional claim of punitive damages. This ruling is a precedent setting victory for maritime workers throughout the nation. No other State Supreme Court has yet ruled on this issue. We are very pleased that employees now have an additional weapon in their arsenal to obtain justice and, at the same time, hopefully curtail dangerous conduct of shipowners.

Allan Tabingo was a deckhand aboard F/V AMERICAN TRIUMPH when the accident occurred. After fish are brought aboard the vessel, a hatch is opened on the deck so that deckhands can shovel the fish through the hatch for processing. To move the last of the fish from the deck into the hatch, a deckhand must get down on all-fours and push the remaining fish through the hatch using their hands. Tabingo was on his knees gathering the fish when another deckhand began closing the hatch. The deckhand realized that Allan Tabingo’s hand was in danger, and tried to stop the hatch from closing. The handle on the hydraulic control valve was broken and repeatedly popped out of the valve. The hatch closed on Tabingo’s hand, severing two of his fingers. The vessel operator had been aware of the broken control handle for two years prior to the incident, yet failed to repair it. In fact, the crew tied one end of a piece of line around the handle and the other end to the ship’s rail so that when the handled popped out, it would not fall overboard. Alan Tabingo suffered the amputation of two fingers and the loss of his livelihood.

Tabingo filed suit in King County Superior Court against the vessel operator, American Seafoods. He asserted Jones Act negligence and general maritime law unseaworthiness claims. The punitive damages claim was based on the precedent setting 2009 Supreme Court of the United States ruling in Atlantic Sounding v. Townsend. The trial judge decided that punitive damages did not apply and dismissed Tabingo’s claim. Tabingo appealed to the State of Washington Supreme Court.

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SR520DOT-e1488913715697On Wednesday March 1st, a floating crane broke loose from tethers and drifted from the Highway 520 project toward waterfront homes on Lake Washington.

According to a Laurelhurst homeowner, the crane was floating north of the job site toward residential docks at about 4 a.m.

Emily Durante, a project spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), reported that the equipment ran aground in shallow water and was retrieved before reaching any homes or docks.

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Duwamish-SpillThe US Coast Guard and Washington Department of Ecology responded to a fuel spill in Seattle on the West Waterway of the Duwamish River after a tug and barge collided. The incident occurred at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Ecology and the National Response Center were notified of the spill by the operator of Island Tug and Barge at 9:12 a.m. The hull of the tug was breached in the collision, and damage was sustained to one of the diesel fuel tanks.

While the tank’s capacity is 9,000 gallons, the tug was reportedly carrying only 1,200 gallons of fuel at the time of the incident. Larry Altose of the Ecology Department said, “We’ll treat response as if all spilled, until we learn differently.”

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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.”