Boat on the sea
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Disembarking-via-gangway-OSHAWe have all heard that working in the commercial fishing industry is the most dangerous type of work in the nation. Commercial fishing has long topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of jobs with the most injuries and fatalities. However, many accidents happen before boats leave the dock or upon returning from sea. This is because many vessels are not seaworthy, and seaworthiness begins with safe access to ladders, walkways, gangways, and gangplanks.

Under Maritime Law, a vessel is considered unseaworthy when a vessel is poorly kept or poorly maintained. In some cases, ship owners may fail to supply proper means for the crew to pass from ship to shore. A seaworthy vessel must have well-maintained equipment that is in working order. Workers must be properly prepared and trained, and routes for boarding, disembarking, and loading a vessel must be hazard-free. Jumping on or from the vessel is not an option. Even if the vessel is less than a foot from the dock, the ship owner is required to provide a safe passage for workers to and from the dock. When evaluating a case, a lawyer will consider the nature of an injury as well as the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Maritime work is dangerous by its very nature. However, that does not mean that workers must accept a high level of risk. There are many federal and industry safety standards that apply to boarding and disembarking a vessel, including Coast Guard regulations and OSHA regulations. If these safety standards are ignored, there can be liability on the part of the vessel owner. For example, using a gangway to board a vessel does carry some amount of risk. But that risk is mitigated when safety precautions and guidelines are followed. If, however, safety is ignored, then the act of using the gangway carries unacceptable risk. This is considered negligence and unseaworthiness. Workers MUST have a safe and well-maintained way of getting aboard and disembarking a vessel.

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Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_Coast_Guard-1One person is missing and 7 others have been injured in an oil rig platform explosion on Lake Pontchartrain near Kenner, Louisiana.

Locals reported an explosion that sounded like a “sonic boom” at approximately 7:20 p.m. on October 15th. Sector New Orleans was alerted and launched a Coast Guard Station New Orleans 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew, a Station New Orleans 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew, and a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter in response to the incident. Bayou Gauche Fire Department vessels, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries vessels, and a “good Samaritan” vessel were also at the scene.

The platform acts as a storage and transfer structure for oil wells on the lake. Clovelly Oil Co., the owner of the platform, said it is also used as a natural gas platform. The fire burned overnight, but was extinguished by morning. “Our first objective from the firefighting standpoint is we’re trying to stop the oil flow if there’s any and at that point we have to cool it and let it burn off,” said Fire Chief David Tibbets of the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department.

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Rolls-Royce-Fishing-Vessel-1024x536At the Google Cloud Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, Rolls-Royce announced that it will be applying Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine to power autonomous ships. The technology will be used to detect, identify, and track surface objects that vessels encounter while at sea to make the maritime industry safer and more efficient.

Rolls-Royce senior vice president for ship intelligence, Karno Tenovuo, said “While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient. By working with Google Cloud, we can make these systems better, faster, saving lives.”

Eva Fors, Head of Google Cloud Sales Nordics said, “By exploring the possibilities presented by machine learning, Rolls-Royce can combine the latest technology advancements with its deep knowledge of the maritime industry, ultimately bringing significant improvements to the sector.”

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Crowley-Tanker-PennsylvaniaThe Jones Act Waiver that we reported on last week, has been extended through September 22, 2017 at the recommendation of the Departments of Defense and Energy. The waiver was initially signed on September 8, 2017 by the Department of Homeland Security.

Severe disruptions in the fuel supply system resulted from the mass evacuation of millions of Floridians as they left the areas where hurricanes were predicted to hit. To facilitate movement, maintain services, and rebuild after these devastating storms, refined petroleum products including jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline may be shipped from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas to Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico under foreign flagged ships until the September 22nd deadline.

Crowley Maritime, a Jacksonville based company, has dispatched 18 Jones Act vessels to deliver fuel to Florida ports in the next week. In addition to Tampa, fuel will be discharged in Port Canaveral and Ft. Lauderdale. The vessels will bring approximately 2.75 million barrels of gasoline and 500,000 barrels of diesel in the next 8 days.

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No_Gas_SignTwo U.S. government agencies have waived restrictions in an effort to rebuild infrastructure and respond to citizen needs in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The Environmental Protection Agency has extended a 38-state fuel emissions waiver for storm related supply distributions across the U.S. The emissions waiver will be in effect until September 15th, and eliminates the need for states to meet strict emission requirements for low-volatility gasoline. These waivers will allow fuel to make it to market more quickly and reduce supply shortfalls caused by the storms.

In a similar sanction, the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the Jones Act.  The waiver will ensure that all options for the distribution of fuel are available to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of this potentially devastating storm,” said Acting Secretary Duke.

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AtlanticSalmon-e1504048126863A breach in a net pen was initially blamed on high tides and the eclipse.  However, in a revised press release, Cooke Aquaculture no longer listed the eclipse as a possible cause, but rather “Exceptionally high tides and currents caused damage to a salmon farm that has been in operation near Cypress Island for approximately 30 years.”

Whatever the cause of the Atlantic salmon spill on Cyprus Island, aquaculture operations have been put on hold in the Pacific Northwest after a moratorium was placed on new and pending permits for fish farming in Washington State. Governor Jay Inslee and Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, jointly imposed the freeze on permits after the Cooke Aquaculture Pacific net pen breech occurred on August 19th.

Cooke leases public bedlands from the Department of Natural Resources, and is now in violation of that lease agreement. In order for Canadian based Cooke Aquaculture Pacific to be “in compliance” with the terms of their lease, they must clean up and manage pen failures at the Cypress Island facility said Cori Simmons, head of communications for the Department of Natural Resources.

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The Seattle Fire Department was called to Magnuson Park this morning after receiving word that a 17-year-old boy had gone underwater. Spokeswoman Kristin Tinsley reported that a water rescue team arrived at the 7800 block of 62nd Avenue Northeast around 9:33 am.

Tinsley said that the teen had been taking a class at Sail Sand Point when some sort of mishap caused him to go underwater. Several people involved with the class as well as a responding police officer worked to pull the teen from the water just before the fire department arrived.

He was taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital in critical condition after spending six minutes underwater.

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Atlantic-Salmon-e1503447282853If you happen to be fishing in the south Bellingham Bay area near Cypress Island today, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife would like your help cleaning up a large Atlantic salmon spill. A net pen which held approximately 305,000 Atlantic salmon, broke over the weekend, releasing thousands of farm fish into the waters surrounding the San Juan islands.

In a statement released this morning by Cooke Aquaculture Pacific, a division of Icicle Seafoods, Inc., Cooke speculated that “exceptionally high tides and currents coinciding with this week’s solar eclipse” caused the damage. Cooke estimates several thousand salmon escaped following “structural failure” of a net pen.

“It appears that many fish are still contained within the nets,” Cooke said in the statement. “It will not be possible to confirm exact numbers of fish losses until harvesting is completed and an inventory of fish in the pens has been conducted.”

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The U.S. Coast Guard is still searching for a fisherman who went missing after going overboard in Ugashik Bay.

Petty Officer Bill Colclough says the vessel Lady Colleen reported just after 12:00 a.m. Thursday that a crewman had gone overboard.

“The person was observed falling into the water wearing dark green rain bibs, with no personal flotation device, and could not swim,” he said. “The crew reported they were unable to get the person before being observed going underneath the water and not resurfacing.”

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The Mason County Coroner’s office have released the name of a scuba diver who died this past Saturday in Washington state’s Hood Canal.

Joshua Michael Parke of The Balles, Oregon, was on a training dive in the Sund Rock Conservation area near Hoodsport, Washington.

Officials say that Parke, age 36, went unconscious shortly after surfacing with his dive partner.