Articles Posted in Alaska

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Bristol-Bay-Dockside-Exams-300x214Commercial fishing continues to be among the most hazardous jobs in the U.S. but there are many ways vessel owners and crew members can mitigate risk. In an effort to prepare for the 2019 Bristol Bay commercial salmon season, the U.S. Coast Guard is offering free dockside examinations for all commercial fishing vessels. Locations and dates are as follows:

King Salmon: June 6-21

Dillingham: June 10-20

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USCGC_HickoryThe U.S. Coast Guard has released the results of the investigation into the crane accident that took the life of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski on January 31st, 2019. The accident occurred in the Coast Guard buoy yard in Homer, Alaska. The 35-year-old accident victim from Mahopac, New York, was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory. A 17-year veteran, he was working in the vessel buoy yard when a crane rolled over and struck him.

The investigation revealed that the direct cause of the accident was the improper operation of the shoreside crane. Investigators also found that inadequate crewmember training, a complacency of shoreside operations, and leadership deficiencies aboard the Cutter Hickory contributed to the accident.

The commanding officer of the Cutter Hickory has been temporarily relieved of duty, with “loss of confidence in the officer’s ability to perform his duties” as the official reason cited. The call was made by Rear Adm. Matthew Bell Jr., who is the commander of the 17th Coast Guard District. A formal review is pending.

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1200px-DHC-3-Otter-300x141Six people are confirmed dead after two floatplanes collided near Ketchikan, Alaska. Originally, 2 people were missing, but the U.S. Coast Guard and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad located the remaining two near the crash site of the Beaver floatplane.  They were deceased.

“We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search efforts,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This is not the outcome we hoped for and extend our deepest sympathies during this very difficult time.”

Ten people were taken to area hospitals and four with more serious injuries were flown to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.

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Alaska_fishermen_working_with_net-300x225In an effort to lower the barrier to entry in the fishing industry, to retire a “graying fleet” of vessels, and to attract a younger group of fishers into the industry, the Local Fish Fund has announced a new and innovative loan program. Loans are structured based on quotas and shares rather than fixed payments, which creates a system that is flexible and spreads risk.

“The cost and risk involved in accessing Alaska’s quota share fisheries are comparable to purchasing a hotel as a first step in home ownership,” said Linda Behnken, founder of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. “We’re looking for ways to help the next generation of fishing families get that start and build sufficient equity to eventually access conventional loans. Part of what has made it really challenging to buy into the fisheries is the uncertainty and how that will affect their ability to make fixed payments that don’t fluctuate as catches or fish prices drop,” Behnken said. “We share and reduce that risk, so the payments are based on what fishermen are paid at the dock. If the price falls, so does the payment; conversely, if they go up, it’s a bigger share.”

A recent survey reported that the average age of an Alaska fisherman is 50. Fewer young people are entering the field due to financial barriers such as a limited number of permits available as well as high vessel and equipment costs. Participants in the new Local Fish Fund loan program must be willing to participate in fishery conservation programs and agree to a variable repayment structure based on the value of their catch. As young fishers work to repay these loans, they build equity as well as credit history, making future loans and refinancing with traditional lenders an option. The “quota shares” will act as collateral for the borrower.

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Cutter_Midgett-300x200Hand injuries can be devastating and sometimes career-ending for people who work at sea. Medical attention must be secured quickly after an injury for the best outcome. On Sunday, March 3rd, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 57-year-old male after he sustained a hand injury while working aboard the F/V OCEAN ROVER.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard 17th District Command Center in Juneau, Alaska received a call from Health Force Partners that a crewmember had suffered an injury and required medical attention. The Coast Guard Duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew aboard the Cutter John Midgett hoisted the man from the F/V OCEAN ROVER. He was flown to Cold Bay then taken to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage for treatment.

“This same helicopter crew has now conducted four medevacs over the past week in the vicinity of Cold Bay,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael Haselden, command duty officer for the case. “Having this helicopter crew deployed in the Bering Sea with Coast Guard Cutter John Midgett was a strategy that paid off tremendously for the fishing fleet. The cutter crew has worked tirelessly to support the helicopter crew, providing opportunities to land and refuel as necessary.”

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Kari_Marie-300x225A forward-deployed U.S. Coast Guard Air Station helicopter crew was called to medevac a crewmember on Monday after he suffered a compound fracture while aboard the F/V KARI MARIE. The fishing boat was located approximately 200 miles north of St. Paul, Alaska when the incident occurred.

Watchstanders at District 17 Command Center received notification from the F/V PACIFIC MARINER about the injury, as they were relaying communications on behalf of the F/V KARI MARIE crew. In an effort to provide additional communication coverage, an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew was also diverted to assist with the incident.

The crewmember was reported to be in stable condition after he was transported to local emergency medical personnel in St. Paul.

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Dutch-Harbor-e1550617197701-300x186Five crewmembers were rescued on Friday by the Good Samaritan vessel KONA KAI after the F/V PACIFIC 1 sunk in the Bering Sea. Just before the Seattle based cod fishing boat went down, it was reported to have been listing heavily.

The U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received notification from the F/V KONA KAI that the 58-foot F/V PACIFIC 1, located about 40 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, had begun taking on water. The KONA KAI lost communication with the Pacific 1, but their last known location was transmitted to officials.

Two Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews were deployed from their forward-operating location in Cold Bay, Alaska. They arrived in time to assist the KONA KAI in locating the inflatable life raft that held all 5 people. While Coast Guard personnel were able to locate the raft, an inflight issue forced them to set a data marker buoy then return to Cold Bay.

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USCGC_HickoryIt is with great sadness that we report the death of a U.S. Coast Guard officer after he was struck by a crane in Homer, Alaska.

Michael Kozloski, a 35-year-old Chief Warrant Officer from Mahopac, New York, was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory. A 17-year veteran, he was working in the vessel buoy yard when a crane rolled over and struck him.

Emergency medical personnel from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department responded and performed CPR. Officer Kozloski was transported to South Peninsula Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1-300x225The U.S. Coast Guard “forward deploys” assets to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season in an effort to shave hours off flight times when emergency personnel must respond to situations in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands. Once again, this practice proves prudent.

On Tuesday, January 29th at approximately 11pm, the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders received a call from Health Force Partners with a request for a medevac. A 35-year-old crewmember aboard the F/V Golden Alaska was suffering from severe leg pain and needed medical attention. The vessel was located approximately 40 miles north of the Cold Bay station. Watchstanders directed the launch of a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew, forward-deployed to Cold Bay. The crewmember was hoisted then transported to the Cold Bay clinic. It was reported that he arrived in stable condition.

“Our forward operating locations are critical to mission success in Alaska,” said Lt. Jeff Mistrick, a Jayhawk pilot on the medevac. “Alaska has more than 47,300 miles of shoreline and encompasses more than 3.8 million square miles of land that we are responsible for covering. Had it not been for our close proximity to this man, we may not have been able to hoist him as quickly as we did.”

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Screenshot-321The massive earthquake that rocked Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday, November 30th caused widespread damage to roads, buildings, schools, and homes. Initially, a tsunami warning was issued after the quake, but it was revised and canceled after authorities assessed that there would be no giant wave.

The earth began shaking at approximately 8:29 a.m. about eight miles outside of Anchorage. The jolting quake lasted for about one minute and registered 7.0. Many residents reported that they heard the rumbling sound of the quake just before the shaking began. And everyone agreed, it could have been so much worse.

The few fires that started were extinguished quickly, no large buildings collapsed, and no deaths have been reported resulting from the quake. It is widely believed that updated building code requirements and retrofitting efforts created a safer environment for everyone. At a press conference, Governor Bill Walker stated, “Building codes mean something.”