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Articles Posted in Immersion Suits

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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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Survival_suits_USCG1200x700-300x175On August 11th, multiple U.S. Coast Guard units received distress calls stating that the F/V ARCTIC FOX II, a 66-foot commercial fishing boat, had begun taking on water. The vessel was located about 85 miles off Cape Flattery, Washington at the time of trouble.

The three crewmembers aboard were getting ready to abandon ship and reported that they were all wearing survival suits. Once on the scene, the U.S. Coast Guard aircrew immediately spotted a lifeboat. One survivor was aboard and hoisted into the helicopter. Tragically, the other two crewmembers did not survive. While the fishermen were all wearing survival suits, it was later reported that the suits were old, in poor repair, and that the seams were cracked. The suits that were meant to save lives, were not watertight.

This tragic accident highlights the need for all vessel owners, masters, and captains to test the functionality of immersion suits stored on their vessels. Under federal law, it is the duty of the person in charge of the vessel to make sure all lifesaving gear is properly maintained and inspected before each voyage. Follow these best practices for proper inspection and care.

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