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Articles Posted in Alaska

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Survival_Suit_Saves_Man-300x196On November 2, 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District command center received a “search and rescue satellite alert” from the F/V IRONY. A 70-year-old man had fallen into the rough waters of Union Bay, Alaska, just northwest of Meyers Chuck.

The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka launched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ANACAPA and crew to carry out the search and rescue operation. The man was found clinging to a piece of debris, immediately hoisted, then taken to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Ketchikan, Alaska.

“What saved this man’s life was his essential survival equipment,” said Lt. Justin Neal, a helicopter pilot from Air Station Sitka. “He had an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered in his name that allowed us to find him quickly, and his survival suit kept him warm long enough for us to rescue him.”

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Atlantico1200x600U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received a call on September 16th from the F/V ATLANTICO reporting that a 40-year-old crew member had suffered a back injury.

The Duty Flight Surgeon was consulted regarding the nature of the injury, and a medevac was recommended. The District 17 command center ordered the launch of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and aircrew. The injured fisherman was hoisted, transferred to Cold Bay, then transported to Anchorage to awaiting medical personnel.

“Good coordination between the Atlantico crew, command center personnel, and the Jayhawk aircrew attributed to our ability to successfully perform this medevac and get the injured fisherman to proper medical care,” said Lt.j.g. Lindsay Wheeler, a District 17 command center watchstander.

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Kodiak_AK-300x225A fisherman was injured on Monday, July 20th while working aboard the F/V RUBICON. The U.S. Coast Guard command center in Anchorage, Alaska received a call at approximately 12:45 p.m. from the wife of the fishing vessel’s master, informing officials that a medevac was needed for an injured crew member. The vessel was located just north of Kodiak Island at the time of the incident.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter stationed at the District 17 command center was launched, then landed on a nearby beach at about 1:42 p.m. The fisherman was transferred from the 42-foot F/V RUBICON to the awaiting helicopter crew via small boat. The injured crewmember was then medevaced to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Kodiak.

“This was a very quick case,” said Lt. Jared Carbajal, the aircraft commander on the case. “Good communications from the boat, excellent flexibility and the captain’s expert seamanship enabled a very quick pick-up and transfer of the injured fisherman to medical care.”

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Alaska-Beach1200x600-300x150It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of Cole Rutzer and Dylan Furford, two young men who grew up in a tight-knit community near Westport, Washington. They were doing what they loved, working hard, and bringing in Dungeness crab aboard the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY.

Greg Rutzer, Cole Rutzer’s father, and Brent Gilbertson, a cousin, were also working on the vessel. According to reports, the crew had just dropped their crab pots. Rutzer and Furford loved adventures, and with the little downtime they had, took a Zodiac skiff and Cole’s dog to Tugidak Island, about ½ mile from where the F/V PACIFIC DYNASTY was anchored. They planned on doing some beachcombing on the remote island then return to the vessel in the late afternoon.

Scott McCann, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the men had provided a float plan to the captain, Greg Rutzer. They were to return to the vessel before dinner.

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Cordova_Alaska_aerial-300x177
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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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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Boot-e1573002489495-668x1024Processing fish at sea has numerous benefits. At-sea-processing offers consumers the freshest product, reduces waste due to spoilage, and minimizes transportation fuel costs. But what happens to the waste products such as fish heads, fins and internal fish organs? They cannot simply be thrown overboard as they are considered “garbage”. The IMO has set up rules and regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from vessels and is covered under the Annex V of MARPOL.

MARPOL food waste disposal regulations require grinding seafood waste remains into particles ½” or smaller before they can be disposed of in Alaskan waters. This means that fish processing vessels must be outfitted with industrial grinders that can handle these byproducts. In addition, the ground seafood waste can only be discharged when the vessel is 3 nautical miles or more from land or 12 nautical miles from land if the vessel is in a location deemed “special”.

But these are not just any grinders. These heavy-duty industrial grinders, such as the Muffin Monster industrial seafood waste processor, must be able to grind rocks that have been ingested by sea creatures and stainless steel fishhooks that may still be in their mouths. It isn’t unusual for a halibut head to weigh more than 35 pounds, and these industrial grinders are known to macerate it in less than 20 seconds.

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KingCrab-300x158When we consider autumnal foods and beverages, we often think about Pumpkin Spice lattes, and who doesn’t love a tiny Halloween Snickers bar?  But there is another type of food we should all be celebrating: Seafood! October is National Seafood Month, which means paying homage to one of our nation’s oldest industries. Here are seven ways you can participate:

Eat or serve seafood at least twice weekly. Seafood is a great source of healthy lean protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and proven to support heart and brain health.

Partake in a local seafood festival. Communities across the nation celebrate and support the hard-working men and women who put this delicious staple on our tables.

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