Articles Posted in Alaska

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Coast-Guard-Adrift-300x225Four mariners required a U. S. Coast Guard rescue when their 48-foot F/V Soulmate became disabled, adrift, and unable to anchor. Watchstanders received the initial distress call from the vessel via VHF radio, but reception was so unreliable that the use of a satellite phone was required.

“This case highlights the importance of having multiple means of communications,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Taylor, a Sector Anchorage watchstander. “The availability of both a VHF radio and a satellite phone on board the vessel allowed for consistent communication with the master providing up to date information and situational reports.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Naushon responded to the disabled fishing vessel, located about 57 miles west of Kodiak Island and just south of Shelikof Strait. The Coast Guard Naushon crew towed the four crewmembers of the F/V Soulmate to the south side of Kodiak Island. The mariners took refuge at the Lazy Bay cannery in Alitak Bay.

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Rope_Tiedown-1024x683Commercial fishing vessels must comply with safety regulations established by federal and maritime law. When violations are found during a boarding inspection, a vessel may be issued a violation and possibly a fine. When violations are particularly dangerous to the crew or the environment, they fall into a different category known as “especially hazardous conditions”.  After finding several safety violations and environmental infringements, the U.S. Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the F/V Nushagak Spirit sighting “especially hazardous conditions”.

The vessel was located approximately three miles east of Umnak Island when the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, a 378-foot high endurance cutter based in Seattle, Washington, conducted the onboard inspection. They found one fishing violation, 14 safety violations, as well as the improper discharge of bilge water. The vessel master admitted to pumping bilge water over the side of the vessel, which is in direct violation of the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Coast Guard sent this vessel back to port. Federal law deemed this vessel “unseaworthy”.

“We perform at-sea safety inspections to ensure mariners are operating in compliance with commercial fishing vessel safety and environmental regulations,” said Capt. John Hollingsworth, 17th District incident management branch chief. “These regulations help ensure the safety of life at sea and protect our marine environment.”

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The-Bering-SeaA 55-year-old fisherman has died after sustaining internal injuries aboard the F/V Ocean Hunter. The 95-foot trawler is owned by Tacoma based Alaska Weathervane Seafoods, LLC. The vessel had been fishing for cod in the Bering Sea at the time of the incident.

According to The Alaska State Troopers’ dispatch, two vessels were tied together in open sea to facilitate a fish transfer. Christopher O’Callaghan was working on the deck when a slack line went taut and struck him in the chest. The bruising and internal injuries from the line resulted in his death. The official report also notes that several crewmembers witnessed the tragic incident. His body was transported to the state medical examiner, and authorities are continuing to investigate.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. O’Callaghan’s family and friends and all who worked beside him. He will be honored at the Fisherman’s Memorial Ceremony on May 27, 2018.

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C-S_System_OverviewApril 6th is National 406 Day. It is easy to remember, as the date (04/06) corresponds to the 406 MHz frequency used by these devices to transmit digital signals to satellites. These beacons are considered by many in the maritime trades to be the best life insurance available. And in some cases, they are legally required by vessel owners. To read more about safety gear, please see our page regarding life rafts, EPIRBs and survival suits. National 406 Day is also a reminder to anyone with a beacon that federal law requires registration to be current.

What exactly is an EPIRB? It is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon that works by transmitting a signal via satellite that can then be relayed to a rescue coordination center. The device can be automatically activated (for example if the device is under more than 3 meters of water) or manually activated to transmit a distress signal.

Here is a list of 8 tips NOAA recommends when handling your EPIRB:

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Fishermen_with_their_halibutThe 2018 Pacific halibut season is set to begin at noon on Saturday, March 24nd, but the U.S. and Canada have failed to reach consensus on limits for the first time since 1990. Both countries have endorsed a quota cut.

The IPHC (The International Pacific Halibut Commission) is an intergovernmental organization that was established between Canada and the U. S. in 1923 to monitor and maintain Pacific halibut stocks at sustainable levels. The organization is recommending limits slightly lower than those of 2017. While research indicates a slight decline in stocks, Pacific halibut continue to remain at healthy levels.

When an agreement can’t be reached, quotas from the previous year are used until new limits can be set. The U.S. and Canada did agree that catch limits should be lower than the 2017 numbers. Through a domestic Interim Final Rule established by NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. is implementing catch limits that are in line with those proposed at the IPHC board meetings.

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-JayhawkOnce again, the benefits of having Coast Guard assets forward deployed were realized when a crewmember aboard the F/V Island Enterprise was found unconscious in the freezer compartment of the vessel last week.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center were contacted on February 16th at approximately 5:30 p.m. by Health Force Partners. The agency is contracted by many vessel owners to provide injury and illness treatment as well as occupational assessments. Watchstanders in turn contacted the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, who recommended the medevac for the unconscious worker.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 57-year-old man from the vessel then transported him to Cold Bay, then on to Anchorage for emergency medical treatment. This was the sixth reported Coast Guard medevac rescue for the winter fishing season.

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Cold-Bay-USCG-1024x520A 25-year-old man was airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard from the 107-foot fishing vessel Bering Hunter after he fell and suffered a head injury.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center received a call from the captain of the vessel, stating that a crewmember had fallen and sustained a head injury. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac, and a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched to the Bering Hunter location.

“Having assets forward deployed to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season allows our crews to respond quickly,” said Lt. J.G. Rian Ellis, a 17th district watchstander. “We are able to eliminate hours of flight time in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, ensuring the safety of mariners.”

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1In an effort to reduce response times during the winter commercial fishing season, the U.S Coast Guard is making good use of a “forward operating location” in Cold Bay. It was a busy week for the U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District Alaska, as they rescued a total of 4 maritime workers from various fishing vessels in the Cold Bay area this week.

On January 23rd, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew (forward deployed to Cold Bay) medevaced two men from two different fishing vessels in one heroic trip.

A 21-year-old man aboard F/V Ocean Peace was suffering from sea sickness and loss of consciousness when watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command received the call. Sea sickness a common issue for seamen and fishermen, and the dehydration that accompanies it can be very serious. The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 21-year-old man at approximately 5 p.m., then picked up a 37-year-old man with a hip injury from the F/V Northern Patriot. Both men were safely transported and received medical treatment.

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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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A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research Vessel has just located the wreck of the missing F/V DESTINATION that sank in the Bering Sea this past February. The vessel and its six crew members were tragically lost in the capsize.

On the cold morning of Saturday, February 11, 2017, crew aboard the F/V DESTINATION was traveling to the fishing grounds and was just off St. George Island in the Pribilofs of the Bering Sea. Events that followed before the vessel ultimately sank are being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The crew did not have time to send a May Day—only an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon signal was set off by F/V DESTINATION crew. This allowed immediate responders to reach the destination, but only buoys, a life ring and other debris were found at the site.