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Boat on the sea
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Lab_Worker_CDCFB-300x158In a press release issued last night, American Seafoods has reported that 86 crewmembers have tested positive for COVID-19, and nine more crewmembers are still awaiting results.

It was reported that one crew member became ill and was taken to a hospital while the ship was docked in Bellingham. That crewmember tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in a hospital for treatment after being admitted Friday.

According to a spokesperson for American Seafoods, all crew members were tested for COVID-19 by the University of Washington before boarding the vessel. Only those who tested negative for the virus were allowed to board.

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Cruise-ShipFB-300x158We will never know exactly how many passengers and crew have been infected with COVID-19 while on cruise ships. What we do know, is that Carnival Cruise Lines plans to resume its cruise operations on August 1, 2020. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that 30 million passengers traveled on a total of 272 cruise ships within the year (worldwide total).

According to information posted on the Carnival website, eight ships will be put back into service in late Summer. As of this posting, they include the Carnival Dream, Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Magic, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Breeze, and Carnival Elation. Ports of departure include Galveston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and others.

Carnival spokesperson Vance Gulliksen said that the reopening of cruise ships “is fully dependent on our continued efforts in cooperation with federal, state, local, and international government officials. In our continued support of public health efforts, any return to service will also include whatever enhanced operational protocols and social gathering guidelines that are in place at the time of the resumption of cruise operations.”

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Astoria_FB-300x158Bornstein Seafood in Astoria, Oregon has closed until further notice due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Clatsop County Public Health began an investigation on May 4, 2020, after an employee at Bornstein Seafood tested positive for the deadly virus. More than one-third of 35 employees tested on Monday were positive for the disease. By May 5, 13 employees were ill with COVID-19, and more test results are pending. Contact tracing has begun, and workers at both Astoria plants have been asked to shelter at home until further notice.

Clatsop County Public Health reported that the 11 cases reported on Monday included four women—one aged 30-39, and three aged 40 to 49. Also testing positive were seven men—two aged 30 to 39, four aged 50 to 59, and one aged 60 to 69.

Before the outbreak occurred, a complaint was filed with OSHA by the Lower Columbia Hispanic Council against Bornstein Seafood. The complaint, filed on April 18, cited a lack of social distancing and a lack of personal protective equipment, and that some workers felt unprotected at work. With protective gear and temporal scanners in short supply, many companies are finding it challenging to procure equipment that meets county guidelines. OSHA has confirmed that the complaint is still open for investigation.

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Salmon fishing season is about to begin, but nothing is business as usual this year. In just a few weeks, about 400 fishermen and processing workers will arrive in Cordova, Alaska for the opening of King Salmon and Copper River Sockeye season. The town of Cordova has a full-time population of 2,100. With no road access, Cordova has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the time of this post, and while most members of the community support workers arriving for the harvest (showers and bathrooms at the community center have been repurposed to serve the influx of workers), they also want to see that quarantine recommendations and other safe practices are maintained.

No one wants a repeat of the cruise industry crisis or infamous meat-packing industry outbreaks that have recently been in the news. The spread of COVID-19 in the South Dakota Smithfield Foods pork plant has been linked to over 640 cases of the virus, and 51 cases at the Tyson Foods meat-packing plant in Pasco, Washington. These are essential businesses that failed, for a variety of reasons, to keep their workers safe.

Trident Seafoods has reported that four processing plant employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as well as two office workers. Five have recovered and one is still at home convalescing as of April 20. The company is checking employees for fever daily and furthering their sanitation efforts. In response, Trident Seafood is requiring workers to quarantine for 14 days before boarding fishing and processing vessels. Many have checked into hotels and are being monitored by healthcare workers before going to sea. Although it may seem extreme, the precautions are an indication of how seriously the fishing industry is taking this public health crisis. The companies involved are acutely aware that an outbreak aboard a vessel at sea would be disastrous.

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Bountiful-300x167A 43-year-old man was medevaced after sustaining severe burns while aboard the F/V BOUNTIFUL. The vessel was located approximately 46 miles southwest of Saint Paul, Alaska at the time of the injury.

Watchstanders received the call at approximately 9:56 a.m. that a crewmember had been severely burned. After a brief consultation with the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak was launched. The injured man was safely hoisted then flown to Saint Paul and transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel at approximately 2:56 p.m. A further transport to Anchorage was required for further medical treatment. Weather on the scene was reported as 8-12 foot seas, wind at 46 mph, with 12 miles of visibility.

Injuries caused by marine fires and explosions are some of the most painful and debilitating types of injuries. Burns can cause serious and permanent harm and must be treated immediately. Victims who suffer these types of injuries are protected by Federal Maritime Law. Seamen, fishermen, and crewmembers who are injured due to unseaworthiness or negligence are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, psychological injuries, lost wages, lost wage-earning capacity, disfigurement, vocational retraining, and future health care expenses. In nearly every case, the injured party is entitled to maintenance and cure which includes the payment of all necessary medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. It should be noted that injured crewmembers also have the right to choose their own doctor/physician.

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ScandiesRoseFacebookWe are deeply saddened by the recent news of the sinking of the  F/V SCANDIES ROSE in Alaskan waters. We have been practicing maritime law for over 35 years and have handled dozens of sinking cases. Yet, the news of such a disaster is always shocking, tragic, and heartbreaking. The sinking of DESTINATION and MARY B II has barely faded from the front page when we now must face this catastrophic news.

We represented families of lost souls on these two fishing vessels. Below is an outline of what the families can expect from the insurance company involved in the SCANDIES ROSE case.

1. The insurance company will first appoint an insurance adjuster and hire their lawyers. The lawyers will stay behind the scenes at first and send the adjuster to meet with the families. The adjuster will try to “assure” the families that the insurance company will take care of the families. Of course, the insurance company and the adjuster are not friends of the families and will be pursuing the interests of the insurance company (that is, to minimize the amounts paid). The adjuster will probably “offer” to pay for a memorial service and fly family members to the service.

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Sea_Angels1200x600The U.S. Coast Guard rescued four fishermen on Monday, December 9th after the F/V SEA ANGELS ran aground near Browns Inlet, North Carolina.

The 88-foot fishing vessel reported that they were experiencing mechanical issues when they called Coast Guard Sector North Carolina requesting assistance.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station Emerald Isle as well as an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City responded to the call for help. Once on the scene, responders were able to hoist all four crewmembers, then transport them to U.S. Coast Guard Station Emerald Isle. See the video that documents this heroic rescue.

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Astoria-300x196Those who work at sea know the importance of the U.S. Coast Guard as first responders. This work is so vital to the maritime trades that they have designated two new cities as “Coast Guard Cities”, Cordova, Alaska and Westport, Washington. This program was created in 1998 by the United States Congress to identify and distinguish those cities that supported Coast Guard personnel. The first city to be recognized was Grand Haven, Michigan.

What is a “Coast Guard City”?

Currently, there are 28 cities in the U.S designated as Coast Guard Cities and Communities. This distinction is given to cities where service members and their families are highly supported by citizens. Cities apply for Coast Guard City status and are selected by the Standing Board. Cities that are granted status are eligible to remain part of this program for 5 years, at which time they may reapply for recertification. Current cities and criteria are available at Coast Guard Cities.

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Cape_Cod-300x157It is with great sadness that we report that the U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for three missing fishermen near Massachusetts.

An Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB) alert from F/V LEONARDO was received by the U.S. Coast Guard District One command center on Sunday at 3:18 P.M. Personnel from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to investigate.

The F/V LEONARDO was carrying four crew members when it capsized and sank approximately 24 nautical miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. Coast Guard crewmembers were able to rescue one of the four fishermen, Ernesto Santos, from a lifeboat.

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Arctic_Storm_RescueA fisherman working aboard the F/V ARCTIC STORM suffered a severe hand injury on Monday, November 18th.

The call reporting the injury came to watchstanders at the U.S Coast Guard Sector North Bend at 3:42 p.m. Monday, November 18th. The vessel was located about 34 miles west of Newport, Oregon at the time of the incident. As further communication took place between the vessel and Coast Guard personnel, it was determined that the best approach was to medevac the injured worker as soon as possible.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Facility Newport arrived at the F/V ARCTIC STORM at 7:36 a.m on Tuesday, November 19th. The 21-year-old male was hoisted and transported to awaiting medical personnel at Samaritan Pacific Community Hospital in Newport, Oregon for treatment. Weather conditions at the time of the rescue were reported as 10 to 13-foot seas and 25-mph winds.

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