Articles Posted in Maritime News & Law

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Kennicott_Alaska_Ferry_Front_View_2048px-300x225In November of 2012, Shannon Adamson suffered life-threatening injuries when the passenger gangway she was standing on collapsed. She fell 18-feet and suffered a shattered pelvis and sacrum, fractures in her lower back, loss of sensation in her right leg, a broken ankle, wrist and ribs, two punctured lungs, a lacerated liver, and a traumatic brain injury. Adamson required extensive surgery after this horrific fall and long painful sessions with a physical therapist just to learn how to walk again.

Court documents revealed that the Port of Bellingham was aware of a defect in the passenger gangway due to a similar accident that occurred in 2008. Engineering safety experts reported that the faulty system could have been resolved, but port authorities failed to install the recommended safety “limit switch”. The device would have cost the port less than $1000.

In the 2016 federal court case, the jury found the Port of Bellingham negligent, and not Adamson or the State of Alaska. Adamson was an employee of the Alaska Marine Highway System, but the court ruled that the defective passenger gangway was owned by the port. On Thursday, April 11th, 2019 the Port of Bellingham lost an appeal when the Washington State Supreme Court agreed with the previous ruling: Commercial landowners are liable for injuries that occur on the property they are responsible for maintaining, even if a tenant has priority to use the property, concluding that the Port of Bellingham must pay a jury’s $16 million verdict to the injured ferry worker.

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CG-Kodiak-Air-Station-300x188Watchstanders at the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center in Juneau received a call on Monday that a crew member aboard the F/V RESURRECTION was suffering from what appeared to be a heart attack. A medevac was requested request at about 9 p.m.

The 49-foot longline fishing vessel was located approximately 65 miles east of Kodiak when the call was made. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Air Station Kodiak, and a rescue swimmer was lowered with a rescue basket, then hoisted the 38-year-old man to the helicopter. He was transported to Air Station Kodiak and placed in the care of EMS personnel, who transported him to Kodiak Providence Hospital.

“We sent a health technician to supplement the in-flight care, along with our standard aircrew members,” said Lt. Cmdr. Orion Bloom, search and rescue mission coordinator for the case. “When we know that a survivor is experiencing symptoms that might benefit from a level of care beyond what our rescue swimmers are trained to provide, we do our best to provide that higher level of care. We wish this man a swift recovery.”

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DestinationMemorialAfter 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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ShipHull12-300x150The Jones Act or Maritime Law requires that vessels moving goods between U.S. ports are owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Vessels are also required to be built in the U.S. by companies owned and operated by U.S citizens or permanent residents. The Jones Act requires that the steel used in the construction of a vessel be domestic, and that no more than 1.5 percent of the vessels “steel weight” be foreign processed. So, what happens when a vessel exceeds the limit? This is exactly what happened when Dakota Creek Industries, a 44-year-old family owned shipbuilding company in Anacortes, Washington, self-reported that the F/V AMERICA’S FINEST had indeed exceeded that limit.

The Kirkland, Washington based fishing company, Fisherman’s Finest, contracted a Norwegian company to design a new 264-foot trawler for the company. The vessel design required a steel-bending process that is more common and less expensive when fabricated in Europe. Just under 10 percent of the steel for the vessel was formed in the Netherlands. The vessel carries a $75 million price tag.

“Fishermen are key drivers of Washington state’s growing economy. We need their boats out fishing, not bogged down by regulations meant for large vessels like oil tankers,” said Cantwell.

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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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Port-of-LongviewThe U.S. Coast Guard has launched an investigation after a serious incident killed two maritime workers and injured several others this week. The incident occurred Thursday morning, June 28, 2018, at Terminal 5 in Longview, Washington.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River received word from the captain of the Ansac Splendor, a Panama-flagged cargo vessel, that a mooring line had parted (snapped in half) as the ship was being moved along the dock from one loading hatch to another to facilitate the loading of cargo.

An initial report from investigators states that when the 2-inch thick line broke, it struck 34-year-old maritime worker Byron Jacobs. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Other workers were also struck by the mooring line; a second worker, 41-year-old Ping-Shan Li of China, was critically injured at the scene and taken to Southwest Washington Medical Center for care. He died on Friday from injuries sustained in the incident. Li was the chief mate of the Ansac Splendor.

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Alex-HaleyThe fishing vessel Run Da was detained by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley on June 23rd after the vessel was suspected of illegal fishing activity in international waters 860 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan. A total of 80 tons of chum salmon and one ton of squid were found onboard.

The Alex Haley crew and People’s Republic of China Coast Guard officials conducted a joint international boarding of the Run Da after a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 aircraft spotted the fishing vessel, which was suspected of violating the worldwide driftnet moratorium issued by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution.

After initial arrival on the scene, the U.S. Cost Guard and People’s Republic of China Coast Guard officials participated in a pre-boarding question and answer interview via VHF-FM radio. The results of this conversation confirmed fishing activity and the nationality of the vessel. The captain of the F/V Run Da admitted to fishing with driftnets up to 5.6 miles in length.

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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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Time_BanditA crabber working in the Alaska Bering Sea aboard the TIME BANDIT (the vessel made famous by the popular Discovery Channel reality series “Deadliest Catch”), was awarded $1.35 million by a Seattle jury for injuries sustained in a fireworks related explosion aboard the vessel.

According to court documents, David Zielinski suffered a shattered right hand and forearm when the explosive he was attempting to launch detonated prematurely. According to his attorney, Zielinski had been instructed by his employer to launch the custom-made explosive. Following the incident, Zielinski had to be airlifted from the ship to a medical clinic in Alaska, then flown to Seattle for surgery on his hand and arm. Since the accident, he has undergone several reconstructive surgeries, however the injury has put an end to his career as a commercial crabber.

Johnathan Hillstrand, one of the owners of the TIME BANDIT, admitted that he had suggested Zielinski claim the injuries were sustained while crabbing rather than from an explosive device. In a declaration, Johnathan Hillstrand stated that his brother Andy Hillstrand talked him out of the tactic.

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CoastGuardAwards-300x157We are pleased to report that the Coast Guard has named Tara Dodd 2016 active-duty enlisted person of the year and Nicole Cimino 2016 reserve enlisted person of the year for the 13th Coast Guard District.

Tara Dodd, Petty Officer 1st Class, is an active-duty culinary specialist assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter SWORDFISH. She has been described as a motivated self-starter who epitomizes sound leadership with her unique ability to instill confidence in others, and for her attention to detail, empathy, and mentorship. She is a respected leader, and through her own initiative has qualified for three additional special unit certifications. Dodd spends her off-duty time assisting a World War II veteran in the maintenance of his home and volunteers at the local Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, inspecting and replacing smoke detectors in local retirement facilities.

Nicole Cimino is the Lead Reserve Petty Officer of the armory at PSU 313 in Everett. Cimino supervises maintenance, training and range operations as well as maintaining the weapons qualifications for the 159 members assigned to the unit. Cimino has also served as a Level I trauma center nurse, where she has saved more than 1,000 seriously injured and critically wounded people. In addition to these accomplishments, she has led an armory team that exceeded Navy standards and received honors.