Articles Posted in Coast Guard

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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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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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Coast-Guard-Cutter-Healy-1800-300x200The U.S. Coast Guard recently released the new Arctic Strategic Outlook with a focus on leadership and innovation in the changing landscape of our nation. At a symposium in Seattle, Washington, the area commander discussed the new document and the role that the U.S. Coast Guard must take in the future. Keynote speaker Vice Adm. Linda Fagan said, “The tyranny of distance and the harsh Arctic climate pose significant challenges to agencies charged with providing maritime safety and security to all Americans, including the hundreds of villages and thousands of seasonal workers in the U.S. Arctic.”

Maritime workers rely heavily on the U.S. Coast Guard as first responders, but the Coast Guard also services the maritime economy as a regulatory agency; it is responsible for conducting marine inspections and serving as law enforcement.

“Search and rescue, law enforcement, marine safety, waterways management, and other Coast Guard missions are complicated by the Arctic’s dynamic and remote operating environment,” Fagan said at the symposium. “The Coast Guard will collaborate with stakeholders to develop new practices and technology to serve the maritime community and manage risk in the region.”

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After a two-year investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has released its findings regarding the devastating F/V DESTINATION accident that took the lives of all six crew members aboard the vessel. According to Captain Lee Boone, Chief of Coast Guard Investigations, “It just wasn’t one thing”.

On February 11th, 2017, the crew of the Seattle-based crab boat, DESTINATION set off into the Bering Sea with a stability report that was more than 20 years old, an exhausted crew, and freezing spray and ice that overloaded the vessel.

“Since 1993, some changes had been made to the vessel,” Captain Boone said. “Those should have been incorporated into updated stability instructions that the master could follow.”

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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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Coast-Guard-RescueWhile Monday was the first day back to work for hundreds of thousands of workers around the country, it was just another day for the U.S. Coast Guard; they have been working without pay since the partial government shutdown began on December 22, 2018. Most service members received a check for back-pay on Monday, but the possibility of another shutdown on February 15th is making families nervous, keeping pop-up food pantries open, and has Brett Reistad, national commander of the American Legion, looking for ways to replenish the organization’s Temporary Assistance Fund, which has been severely depleted after over $1 million in grants of $500 to $1500 were distributed to needy Coast Guard families. In a statement, Reistad said, “I’ve been in the Legion 38 years, and I’ve not experienced an instance like this.” Approximately 1,500 grants have been distributed to 1,713 Coast Guard families since January 15th. Specifically, 3,170 children of Coast Guard workers were helped by these grants.

“We try to stay out of politics,” Reistad said, “but we have to recognize the possibility of this happening again. These are our brothers and sisters,” he said of Coast Guard members. “They were out there risking their lives, saving lives.” If Congress and the White House are unable to compromise, another government shutdown could ensue on February 15th.

Since the U.S. Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, they are one of the government agencies not paid during a shutdown but are still required to show up for work. Many politicians are working towards legislation that would ensure that Coast Guard workers get paid just as other branches of the military during a government shutdown.

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Coast-Guard-Rescue1200-300x22542,000 active-duty U.S. Coast Guard members have missed their first paycheck due to the government shutdown. Coast Guard members are continuing to work without pay on essential duties “that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns,” such as securing U.S. ports and coastlines, search-and-rescue missions, and environmental events.

Active-duty personnel who work in other branches of the military continue to receive pay as they are funded by the Department of Defense, which continues to receive funding during a partial government shutdown. However, the U.S. Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security, one of the nine departments affected by the shutdown. Others include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Department of State, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Justice. The Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the Smithsonian have all shut down as they are under the umbrella of one of the nine department closures.

On January 4th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress called the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. It would allow members of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as its civilian employees and contractors to be paid throughout the shutdown. The bill which is sponsored by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, and has support from 29 Democrats and 10 Republicans. South Carolina Congressman Joe Cunningham cosponsored the bill.

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Nordic-Viking-Sinks-300x254The U.S. Coast Guard has taken the lead in the cleanup of over 700 gallons of marine diesel fuel and 50 gallons of gasoline that spilled after the sinking of the F/V NORDIC VIKING. The 71-foot vessel was in Seward Harbor, Alaska at the time of the incident. The cause has yet to be determined.

The Coast Guard will be initially using funds from the Oil Spill Liability and Trust Fund to pay for the cleanup, but the responsible party will be liable for expenses associated with containment, cleanup, and damages. Alaska Chadux, a non-profit organization founded in 1993 after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, has been contracted in the cleanup efforts, and Global Diving and Salvage has been contracted to salvage the 71-foot fishing vessel.

Alaska Chadux had to deploy a second containment boom and absorption pads around the sunken vessel after the first boon was pulled down as the vessel sunk further beneath the water. Global Diving and Salvage has also plugged all fuel vents to prevent any additional fuel leakage.

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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.”